Awakening Nation: Fair Trade Coffee Making Inroads
Jan 01, 2008 03:00AM
Small farmers in developing nations are gaining ground against middlemen and reaping a 10- to 20-percent greater share of the profits as corporate America sniffs out growing demand for fair trade coffee. Some 27 percent of Americans say they’re aware of fair trade certification today, up from 12 percent in 2004, according to the National Coffee Association.
Although only 3.3 percent of coffee sold in the United States in 2006 was certified fair trade, it was eight times the amount five years earlier, reports TransFair USA. “We see a real momentum now with big companies and institutions switching to fair trade,” confirms Paul Rice, TransFair president and CEO. Hi-profile examples are Dunkin’ Donuts, McDonald’s, Starbucks and Wal-Mart’s Sam’s Club.
Fair trade certification of coffee reflects a concern for the well-being of marginalized small producers that doesn’t maximize profit at their expense. Fair trade cocoa, tea, pineapples, flowers and cotton are on the rise as well. Fairtrade Labelling Organizations International notes that the latest compiled numbers show that consumers worldwide spent about $2.2 billion on certified products in 2006, up 42 percent over the previous year. More than seven million people in developing countries benefited.