What is Fair Trade coffee and how does it work?

You may have wandered the aisles of your favourite superstore and seen signs that have indicated the sale of Fair Trade products. Even when you stepped a little closer, picked up a product and read a little about Fair Trade, do you believe that the farmers are receiving the best price and that the product is still first-class? Perhaps you should try some Fair Trade coffee for your own taste and price test.

During the harvesting period coffee is classed either as commodity or a speciality. The commodity coffee is purchased in bulk and will later be graded according to its quality. Speciality coffee is much more valuable and will be worth considerably more than the beans that have been registered as commodity coffee.

Fair Trade sets the price

To ensure that farmers are paid at least a fair price for growing their products, Fair Trade introduces a limit on how low the coffee price can fall. It’s not the farmer that is setting the price, but the buyers of their product who have signed up to the Fair Trade agreement.

The farmer will be able to sell their speciality coffee for a good price in the open market. This is because speciality coffee beans are always required as coffee is the second most commonly traded commodity in the open markets across the world. It is their commodity coffee where they may be told how much a Fair Trade buyer is prepared to pay as long as that figure is equal to or above lowest price that has been agreed upon. The farmers will be tempted to sell all of their speciality coffee across the open markets and reserve their commodity coffee for their Fair Trade deals, which in reality is the majority of coffee that you will purchase from your local superstore.

Do you care about Fair Trade?

Each individual has to decide whether it is more important to drink the highest quality cup of coffee or whether you wish to participate in purchasing coffee when you know the farmers are going to receive a fair price for their product while you may have to agree that it is not the best coffee in the marketplace.

The Fair Trade initiative believes in thinking carefully about the people involved across the entire chain of individuals from farmers through to the end consumer. It places the onus on the purchaser to make decisions about morals and standards.

Some people will argue that Fair Trade has introduced a better price for the farmers, but one at which the buyers will try to reduce to a minimum leaving the farmer without much of a choice. Some farmers will worry the prices being offered to them do not allow sufficient funds to invest in their business and to look to increase and invest in their farm facilitates.

Fair trade coffee consumption currently only accounts for around 4% of the coffee purchased and consumed across the UK. The good news is that Fair Trade has issued claims that they have helped 1.5 million coffee growers to achieve a better price for their commodity coffee. They believe that they have helped millions of people around the world consider whether it is better to buy coffee on price or quality and to care about the people farming the coffee beans.

Image: sweetonveg

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