Fairer trade

CoffeeCup

Photo credit: “Coffee Beans,” Flickr/Refracted_Moments

It’s impossible not to be amused by the Fair Trade coffee people, who got together to present an alternative to the big coffee combines that paid prices for coffee that the Fair Trade people considered to low … uh, finding themselves splintered by people saying the Fair Trade prices are too low. Reports the National Post:

Coffee drinkers who prefer a shot of social justice with their morning java might be surprised to learn that the minimum price paid to fair trade coffee-growers hasn’t changed in 10 years.

“It’s like not taking a raise in 10 years,” said Monika Firl, producer relations manager for Cooperative Coffees — a group of 22 small coffee roasters in Canada and the U.S. who import only organic fair trade coffees.

In principle, Fair Trade seems to make a lot of sense. It’s essentially a way for consumers to pass judgment on the business practices of the people they buy coffee from — coffee-drinkers who want to push more profits down the chain from the big roasters and packagers to the farmers have a voluntary certification organization they can count on to arrange just that.

Don’t care? Buy coffee the way you always have. Eventually the growers will get the hint and find something else to do, one hopes. But if you do care, you’ve got an easy way to show it.

Now, if the Fair Trade organization isn’t fair enough for some buyers’ tastes … well, maybe it’s time for a new Fairer Trade group.

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One response to “Fairer trade

  1. That’s basically the direct trade model that’s taking hold in the higher end parts of the specialty coffee industry, where coffee prices are routinely well above the Fair Trade price floor. The NYT gave this side of the business a fairly accurate profile last week:
    http://www.nytimes.com/2007/09/12/dining/12coff.html?ex=1347249600&en=af5571166ff37123&ei=5090&partner=rssuserland&emc=rss

    These roasters are also able to offer their prices to farmers left out of the Fair Trade system because of its rules mandating a co-op business model.

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