Fair Trade is growing throughout the world, with more and more manufacturers taking on the principles of Fair Trade every year. In this article we aim to tell you some facts about fair trade that you may or may not know. Some are simply the aims and goals of every fair trade organization, while others are facts and figures about Fair Trade across the world.
Here are 20 facts about Fair Trade
Fair Trade is not the same as ethical trade
Fair Trade is a subset of ethical trade, i.e. all Fair Trade is ethical trade, but not all ethical trade is Fair Trade. Buying vegetables from your local farm shop is ethical trade, assuming the farmer is a good employer. But it could never be Fair Trade because Fair trade involves international trade with poorer nations.
We want to eliminate “Fair Trade” so that all international trade is just “fair trade”
Fair Trade is a term that covers a minority of international trade deals. Ideally, all companies would look at the practices of Fair Trade companies and adopt the Principles of Fair Trade. If every company in the world did so, there would be no need to classify things as Fair Trade, as all trade would be fair.
This is a long term goal for the fair trade movement, but each new company that embraces the Fair Trade ethos brings it a step closer to reality.
Workers are given a fair price for their goods
One of the primary means that Fair Trade improves the lives of workers is by paying a fair price for goods. Whether it is to farmers, factory owners or small businesses, Fair Trade companies ensure that a fair price is paid so that workers are not exploited.
Continuity of payments helps producers
Many Fair Trade companies will follow a policy of providing a continuous level of buying, regardless of the peaks and troughs in their own local markets. For instance, Christmas in the UK provides a large peak in sales of many goods. Traditional trade will buy goods from producer when it is needed in the consumer country. This can create peaks and troughs in employment levels and wages for millions of workers in the producer countries. By attempting to anticipate the total annual product needs, and spreading it as evenly as possible over the course of the year Fair Trade companies create stability of employment for the producers.
Investments are made into Health and Safety
Ensuring that workers are given safe working conditions is another priority of Fair Trade companies. All developing nations face different challenges in terms of Health and Safety, than are faced in developing nations. While we have National and European standards of H&S, many countries have little or no regulation in place to ensure accidents, infections, disease etc. are kept to a minimum. Fair Trade companies inspect factories and farms to ensure they reach an agreed level of H&S, and educate the business owners and workers in the importance of following the rules.
Conditions are as important as giving a fair price.
The appalling conditions that some workers work under was highlighted by the Bangladesh Factory collapse. While this comes partially under the Health and Safety point above, there are other conditions that are not necessarily related to Health and Safety but are more to do with wellbeing and enjoyment. Working hours, breaks etc. are agreed with local and national Labour Organizations and are monitored for comlicity.
Training is given to workers
Fair Trade organizations invest in development of skills and capabilities of its own employees or members. Organizations that work directly with small producers will train the management to improve skills in management, improving production capabilities and developing their access to local, regional and international markets in conjunction with Fair Trade and non-Fari Trade organizations.
Loans can help producers
Many Fair Trade organizations take it upon themselves to provide long term low interest loans to the manufacturers and farmers. This enables them to be confident in taking on new workers and devloping the necessary skills and procedures to comply with the requirements of Fair Trade.
Community Projects provide additional benefits to communites
While not one of the 10 principles of Fair Trade, many Fair Trade companies invest money in creating community projects to benefit the whole community involved in their manufacturing process.
No child labour is used
It’s estimated that over 250 million children work for a living in developing countries. Many of this labour takes the form of extreme labour such as debt bondage and prostitution, and it’s obvious that no ethical company trading overseas would engage in this kind of child labour. However Fair Trade companies also don’t allow more benign child labour. While they accept that in certain conditions families may feel that they need extra money that child workers would bring in, they aim to offset this need by ensuring the parents receive fair pay and good working conditions. They also invest in community facilities and schools to ensure the children gain the education they will need for a productive working life as an adult.
No forced labour is used
In a similar way to not allowing child labour, Fair Trade companies don’t allow forced labour of any kind. Another term for forced labour is slavery. In the UK and US we tend to think of slavery as an historical thing that was abolished in the 19th century. But it is still very real in some countries. Fair trade companies are obviously against it.
Fair Trade organizations are commited eliminate discrimination
This can’t be stated any more clearly than in Principle 6 of the Fair Trade Principles. In short, companies don’t discriminate in terms of remuneration, opportunities or training on the grounds of race, colour, creed or any other factor.
Fair Trade promotes respect for the environment
The environmental side is also important within the Fair Trade movement. We are “playing fair” for the workers at the moment, and for their children and grandchildren in the future. To do this we need to ensure the land and environment is also not exploited. The 10th Fair Trade principle focuses on the environmental side by encouraging use of local materials, reducing energy consumption, recycling and reusing where possible, using renewable energy and avoiding harmful chemicals in both factory and agricultural environments.
Fairtrade is making a difference for over a million farmers and workers and their families
The latest Fair Trade Foundation Monitoring Report shows that over a million workers are employed within Fair Trade organizations in developing nations. This probably equates to an overall impact of 4-5 million people who’s families are in some way under the umbrella of opportunity that Fair Trade provides. In a total world population of 7 billion this is
The overall number of producer organizations increased 10 percent between 2010 and 2011
The same report showed that there are 10% more Fair Trade producer organizations worldwide between 2010 and 2011, with an increase of 13% in the number of workers within these organizations.
Fair Trade companies promote Fair Trade
It may seem obvious, but Fair Trade companies have a need to promote the principles of fair trade both in the Western World and within the producer nations. Within the UK the main resistance to Fair Trade is the perceived increased price of products. Within the producer nations there can be a lot of resistance from factory and farm owners who feel it will eat into their profits. Fair Trade companies campaign on both fronts to promote the benefits of Fair Trade.
Fair Trade is not charity
The ethos of fair trade has many of the same traits as many charities that promote aid for developing nations. Indeed some fair trade organizations are also charities, e.g. Traidcraft, the Fair Trade Foundation. But Fair Trade has to be able to stand on its own as a means of trade that works for both the producers and the
In the UK Fair Trade “went live” in 1994
The first products certified by the Fair Trade Foundation became available in shops in 1994. At the time there were just 3 products
About a third of all bananas sold in the UK are Fair Trade
If you have a habit of looking at food and fruit that’s marked with Fair Trade or organic marks and thinking “It’s bound to be much more expensive,” look again. Fair trade bananas are available in most UK supermarkets and are not significantly more expensive than other bananas.
Tea and coffee are some of the most popular Fair Trade products
10% of all retail tea sold in the UK is Fair Trade.
8% of all retail coffee sold in the UK is Fair Trade
OK, that last one was 2 facts but the last one’s for free.
We hope you found some of these facts about fair trade interesting and informative.