You may think: “It’s just a cup of coffee.” But purchasing that coffee from a vendor or company that purchases only fair trade coffee can have a huge, positive impact on the farmer – and his family – who grew it.
Fair trade coffee and other fair trade products are those, according to Fair Trade USA, a non-profit organization that says it is the “leading third-party certifier of Fair Trade products” in the U.S., that are made “with respect to people and the planet.” The organization makes sure any product claiming to be fair trade follows “rigorous … standards [that] work to promote safe, healthy working conditions, protect the environment, … and [help] communities to build strong, thriving businesses.”
What this means to you and your pocket book basically is this: you pay a fair price for a product, and sometimes that price is more than you “normally” pay for the product.
Most small-scale farmers across the globe live remote locations. They often lack access to credit and can be somewhat at the mercy of middlemen, who offer prices for their coffee at a fraction of its true value. Fair trade makes sure a farmer gets an agreed-upon set, minimum price. It also connects farmers and importers directly, which can create sustainability in the long-term for the farmer. Because of fair trade, a farmer can earn a larger income, allowing him to keep his land over time.
Another reason for the agreed-upon minimum price fair trade provides farmers is the fact that it can take up to four years for a coffee plant to yield usable coffee beans, so it can be very hard for a farmer to respond quickly to a fluctuating market. The minimum price he receives for his beans helps him survive years when market prices have dropped.
As of spring 2016, growers of fair trade coffee receive at least the the Fairtrade Minimum Price of $1.40 per pound for certified washed Arabica coffee and $1.35 for unwashed Arabica. If the price on the open market is higher, the farmer is guaranteed that higher price.
Right now the price on the market is lower, $1.25 per pound of coffee beans.
What the Fairtrade Minimum Price really means to a coffee grower is that the price per pound he’ll receive doesn’t change due to things beyond his control such as drought, floods, wars, and so on.
For example, if it’s believed that Brazil will experience flooding rains next year that could potentially drown that year’s coffee yield (Brazil is the country that produces most of the world’s coffee beans), fair trade farmers still will receive the Fairtrade Minimum Price of $1.40 per pound.
We’re committed here at Ubean to work only with fair trade coffee suppliers. We believe in the goals of fair trade, we believe in its fairness. We think it’s important that we pay a fair price to the growers of our excellent coffee beans.
Yes, Ubean costs more – to us as well as to you – but we know it’s worth it because paying fair trade prices is worth it.