Fair Trade products amounts to several billion euro
Posted On July 22, 2020
The idea of fair trade is to protect the worker, employer and consumer. Is this happening? Katarzyna Gradek was checking. The sales value of Fair Trade products amounts to several billion euro each year, of which over 80 million goes to producers in the form of an additional bonus. In the course of everyday shopping, few people wonder where the preferred tea, necessary spices or favorite coffee come from.
Few of us think who and under what conditions produced cotton, nuts, cocoa, and what amount of money he received for his work. Meanwhile, the average worker in a plantation in Ethiopia gets less than 25 cents for a harvest of 1 kg of coffee, while in a fashionable European café, from the same kilogram, you can brew 80 cups of coffee for around 200 euros.
The plantations largely employ several-year-old children
Another example is the unimaginably low wage for a European for 10-12 hours of gathering tea in Kenya. Plantation workers there receive less than 5 Kenyan shillings per kilogram of tea leaves, which in PLN is 17 groszy. The Ivory Coast, on the other hand, is famous for 40% of the world share in cocoa production, but the plantations largely employ several-year-old children, many of whom have never eaten chocolate. What is Fair Trade?
According to the definition of the world coalition Fairtrade Labeling Organizations International, dealing with the coordination, systematization and lobbying for fair trade, Fair Trade is “a trade partnership based on dialogue, transparency and respect, which aims for (…) equality in international trade.” In other words, Fair Trade means decent working conditions, protection of workers’ rights (including limitation of illegal child labor) and, above all, offering a fair price for products manufactured in poor countries of the Global South.
Fair Trade is also education and social campaigns aimed at increasing consumer awareness. The trade partnership promoted by over 300 Fair Trade organizations in 70 countries around the world is a cooperation between producers, importers, shops, organizations and consumers. Fair Trade, or Fair Trade, aims to shorten this distance to the longest possible cooperation of producers and consumers, and thus eliminate poverty in the world. Certified products
The Fair Trade Coalition operating in Poland
In order to create structured standards, FLOI has established an independent certification and labeling system for Fair Trade products. This is Fairtrade Certification, thanks to which consumers can have a guarantee that products with the FT logo have been produced in accordance with the fair trade concept. Unfortunately, few such products reach Poland.
The Fair Trade Coalition operating in Poland admits that “the situation in our country is specific, because activities aimed at promoting the Fair Trade movement are dispersed and carried out by many small local associations and other non-profit entities”. FT products can be found here mainly in online stores, but also in retail chains: Piotr i Paweł, Cuisines of the World, Tesco, Marks & Spencer, Alma. Doubts around Fair Trade
Like a number of issues, also Fair Trade is controversial. According to many, especially British economists, TF organizations are ineffective, and a significant part of the money is wasted on unnecessary bureaucracy – FT products are more expensive than others by about 15%, of which only a few percent goes to farmers and producers.
Moreover, only large enterprises, mainly those from the richer countries of the Global South, such as Costa Rica, can afford to meet the requirements for obtaining the Fair Trade certificate. This means, for example, a reduction in supply in, for example, Ethiopia, and even a forced entry into a criminal path. Fair Trade
When deciding what to add to the basket, we focus on a few things. The products we buy must be tasty, beneficial to health and at good prices. It is worth taking into account something else: where, by whom and under what conditions the goods that we reach from the store shelves were created.
Our purchasing choices have a real impact on the lives of people in developing countries. Thanks to thoughtful purchases, we can improve the living conditions of people who work in the production of coffee, tea, cocoa and rice.
This is because the market for some products
And these conditions are, unfortunately, not to be envied. Current trade rules prevent them from receiving a decent, livelihood payment for their work. Profits are unequally and unfairly shared between producers, middlemen and sellers. This is because the market for some products is dominated by a few large companies that may impose very low prices on their suppliers (coffee, cocoa or banana producers).
Due to a lack of knowledge of how much they could earn from their crops, as well as distances and transport problems, producers are forced to accept underpriced prices.
The situation of individual farmers and plantation owners is similar. The latter, in order to reduce production costs as much as possible, save on employees. This means hunger wages, insufficient to meet basic living needs, unlimited working hours (12-16 hours a day, free overtime, no days off), work in poor hygiene conditions, numerous accidents.
The payment to the manufacturer – be it coffee or cocoa, jeans or sports shoes – is small and amounts to 0.5-2%. the price we pay for the product in the store. Such paid workers, despite their hard work, are not able to earn to support themselves and their families, and their children have no chance for education and usually also work in plantations and factories from an early age. Apart from children, women are in the worst situation, worse paid and sometimes sexually abused at work. How are fairtrade products marked?
- Fair products are easy to find on the shelves thanks to the markings on the packaging. There are several certification systems, but in Poland you can most often find the Fairtrade stamp. The certification system is handled by Fairtrade Labeling Organizations International – FLO, i.e. the union of organizations from different countries. It sets the Fairtrade standards, checks compliance with them, certifies and licenses the use of the Fairtrade label.
- Note: Fairtrade is the name of a specific label, and Fair Trade is the name of an idea supporting the improvement of trading conditions with producers from developing countries. May apply to Fairtrade branded and unmarked products. Fair Trade principles
Fair Trade, an international movement to improve working conditions and ensure a fair wage for small producers in developing countries, is changing this situation.