Fair trade seeks to develop communities and people.

Fair trade keeps prices affordable for consumers and returns a higher profit to the producers. Generally, fair trade items do not cost more than other goods, because fair trade organizations work directly with producers – cutting out anywhere from 3 – 10 middlemen who raise the price along the way in conventional trading.

The cost to consumers typically remains the same while a higher percentage of the price is returned to the artisans and farmers who make the products.

Fair trade impacts communities in developing countries. Children’s school fees are paid; nutritional needs met; health care costs paid; the poor, especially women, are empowered; people have electricity for the first time, people live in a house with a roof, people have food on a regular basis.

The environmental impact of production, sourcing, and transport is mitigated to the fullest extent possible.

Fair trade seeks to develop communities and people–not to make a few people wealthy.

Fair Trade: A New Perspective

  • Fair trade is a business relationship between people in developing countries and markets in developed countries.
  • Fair trade offers unique, special products to the world’s consumers.

Artisans and craftspeople receive a “fair” price for the products they create. The stores that sell their products charge a fair price. The goals are to empower people, to use a fair system of exchange, and to create sustainable and positive change. The goal is not to get rich; the goal is to empower.

Fair Trade stores around the world sell the products. Global Hands is a Fair Trade store.

What Products can be Purchased?

Clothing, coffee, chocolate, home décor, jewelry, tea, toys, bags, personal accessories, furniture, ethnic art and many other products.

How Do Products Get From the Creator to the Fair Trade Store?

Associations such as The Fair Trade Federation and the World Fair Trade Organization form links between the creators and the stores.

Individuals such as Christopher Keefe and his company, Minga Imports, work with individuals to bring products to the U.S. Owners of fair trade stores buy the products they believe will sell best in their stores.

Non-profit groups such as Traidcraft in the United Kingdom reach out to individuals and bring their products to fair trade markets. Traidcraft’s motto is “fighting poverty through trade.”

When Did Fair Trade Start?

  • In 1988, world coffee prices began to decline. A Dutch non-profit, Solidaridad, created the first fair trade certification initiative. At first, only the Netherlands used the coffee, but within a short time, groups across Europe became interested and started initiatives.
  • In 1997, these organizations created Fairtrade Labelling Organizations International (FLO). FLO serves as an umbrella organization which sets fair trade certification standards and supports, inspects, and certifies disadvantaged farmers.

Other fair trade organizations are: TransFair Canada, TransFair USA, Fair Trade Federation, World Fair Trade Organization (formerly IFAT).

Is Fair Trade Successful?

  • In 2006, IFAT reported that total fair trade sales topped $2.6 billion.
  • To be considered Fair Trade, people who make the products must receive a living wage, have safe working conditions, and not use child labor.
  • In 2008, Traidcraft reported that the Fairtrade market in the UK was worth over £700 million a year, a 43% increase on 2007. Seven in 10 households purchase Fairtrade goods, including an extra 1.3 million more households in the last year.There are more than 4,500 Fairtrade certified products carrying the Fairtrade Mark. More than 7.5 million people – farmers, workers and their families – across 59 developing countries benefit from the international Fairtrade system. There are over 430 producer organisations selling to the UK and 872 certified producer groups globally, representing more than 1.5 million farmers and workers.

Will Fair Trade Continue?

Many social and political factors impact the continue success of fair trade. A strong market for the products is necessary. Consumers must make choices that encourage good land utilization and forest management through sustainable harvesting. And the dollars must go back into the communities for further social development in developing nations. The cycle between consumer and artisan can not be broken.

Fair Trade helps people in developing countries who need work, and hope, and money. Fair trade makes it possible for young people to attend school instead of work in sweatshops or fields. These are strong motivators.