The term FairTrade means that producers of produce and products are getting a fair and equitable price for their product.
This means that the consumer is paying a decent price for the product, and then the middleman and supplier is passing that cost down the line to the producer, who is likely to be a small-scale producer, or a co-operative of producers, in the developing world. Typical examples of this process might be coffee or chocolate bean pickers in Africa or Nicaragua.
How Does it Work?
A company from Europe will go into that area and make a deal with individuals or groups of pickers that in return for regular collections of the product, they will be paid a regular and fair amount of remuneration.
The amount paid will be deemed fair by being the highest amount paid for the product on the International markets, and as well as regular income, many FairTrade companies go further in their support of local producer communities by building and financing small-scale hospitals and schools. Some also arrange loans to farmers and producers too, so that valuable equipment can be bought, and local businesses in these areas of the developing world can expand and grow. These are known as social or economic development projects.
There are International FairTrade standards, run by the FairTrade Labelling Organisation (FLO), which regulates the entire process. The FairTrade symbol, administered by FLO, is now on many products, and buying a FairTrade product ensures that disadvantaged producers in the developing world get a fair deal.
Some Examples of FairTrade Products
Well known examples of FairTrade products are coffee and chocolate, because they have been sold on the high street for a number of years, and now are sold in supermarkets as well, and are advertised widely. Ethiopian coffee comes in many strengths and grades, and chocolate from all of the cocoa bean growing areas of the world are made into many delectable types of chocolate bars and chocolate products for the discerning palate and sweet tooth of the discerning consumer in the UK.
Wine is now a popular FairTrade product, with good quality FairTrade wines from Australia and Chile, both reds and whites, being sold at great prices in specialist wine shops as well as supermarkets.
Other products in the wider FairTrade range include dried fruits and nuts, spices, cloth, jewellery from Brazil, handicrafts from Mumbai in India, toys and games, and all sorts of wood products as decoration and art.
Where can FairTrade Products be Purchased?
Charity shops helped to initiate the sale of the first FairTrade products, such as coffee and chocolate, and are still leading retailers of the ever-expanding product range. These are the places to look for FairTrade handicrafts and jewellery. If these shops don’t stock these products, they will know where to look, or might be able to locate a bigger branch that does. Some charity shops also offer a range of FairTrade decorative products to order through catalogues or by mail order only.
High street shops and supermarkets now carry a growing range of the FairTrade food and drink products, and will respond to consumer requests to stock particular products if the demand is there.