3 May, 2019

Make the Switch to Fairtrade - for people and the planet!

A coffee-farming family from Indonesia
by Molly Harriss Olson, Fairtrade ANZ CEO

Did you know that your morning cup of tea or coffee can change lives every day?

Just like you, we care deeply about people, the planet and our collective prosperity. Working towards fairness for all and environmental responsibility is at the heart of everything we do at Fairtrade.

Whether it’s at home, at work, in your school, sports team, community or faith group, making a simple switch in the kitchen can have a huge positive impact on farmers and their families in developing countries, as well as helping the environment.

That’s why, to mark World Fair Trade Day in 2019, we’re asking you to Make the Switch.

Switching to Fairtrade products is simple, and it means your morning cup of tea or coffee is capable of changing lives, while also filling the kitchen with delicious, ethical produce. What could be better?

So how does Fairtrade work?

It’s simple: Fairtrade is about better prices, decent working conditions, sustainability, and fairer terms of trade for farmers and workers.

By requiring companies to pay fair and sustainable prices (which must never fall lower than the market price), Fairtrade addresses the injustices of conventional trade, which often discriminates against the poorest, most marginalised producers.

How can my workplace or business support Fairtrade?

Follow this link to provide your details and we’ll get in touch to let you know just how easy it is to become a Fairtrade-supporting workplace.

Most office suppliers can provide Fairtrade certified products on request. To find out more about how to stock Fairtrade products in your workplace, read the Fairtrade sourcing guide.

Making the switch showcases to your team, customers and wider network that you're taking specific action for an environmentally responsible and socially just world, while enjoying a quality cup of tea or coffee.

Two office workers with beverages in Fairtrade crockery

Where can I buy Fairtrade products?

You’ll find Fairtrade products in supermarkets like Aldi, Woolworths, Coles, independent shops, cafes, restaurants, through catering suppliers and wholesalers, as well as online. We have licensed more than 2,500 Fairtrade certified products for sale through retail and catering outlets in Australia and New Zealand.


What's the difference between Fairtrade and 'Fair Trade'?

The term Fairtrade is used to describe the certification system that ensures farmers are paid a Fairtrade Minimum Price and Fairtrade Premium for their goods. The Fairtrade system allows consumers to identify goods that have met internationally-agreed Fairtrade Standards; these standards are set to work toward social, environmental and economic sustainability. The term ‘Fair Trade’ is used to refer to the Fair Trade movement as a whole and the organisations that follow the principles of Fair Trade. 

If you’re unsure about the basis of claims being made by an organisation, ask in what way individuals, families and communities are empowered, how benefits are measured and how standards are enforced. Fairtrade is the most robust and reliable certification system globally, thanks to the stringent Fairtrade Standards, monitored through regular, independent auditing by FLOCERT. If you want to be sure that farmers and workers are receiving the better deal offered by Fairtrade, always look for the Fairtrade Mark.

So, now that you know where to buy Fairtrade products or how to ask your workplace to stock them, let’s take a better look at those three P’s that are so important to us.

People

Fairtrade is an alternative approach that is based on partnership; one between those who grow our food and those who consume it. Our global system is 50 percent owned by producers representing farmer and worker organisations.

With an equal voice, producers have a say in decision-making within our General Assembly and on Fairtrade International’s Board of Directors. They are involved in decisions on overall strategy, use of resources and setting prices, premiums and standards.

Fairtrade has also been incorporating gender equality into its programs in developing countries for almost three decades. We require that organisations identify disadvantaged, vulnerable or minority groups to protect their rights and proactively improve their economic and social standing. Put simply, a producer organisation that doesn’t support equality cannot be Fairtrade certified.

A Peruvian coffee farmer and his family

Planet

By choosing to buy or stock Fairtrade products, shoppers and businesses in Australia and New Zealand are ensuring that farmers and workers receive a Fairtrade Premium to invest in economic, social and environmental resources of their own choice.

It means they can implement environmental protection programmes which contribute to the range of solutions needed to address climate change and ultimately benefit us all.

Through projects such as reforestation or energy efficient cookstoves, vulnerable communities can reduce emissions and become eligible for carbon credits while also strengthening themselves against the effects of climate change.

The Fairtrade Standards prohibit the use of certain harmful chemicals, while the Fairtrade Premium can be used to train producers in organic and sustainable techniques like composting and using recycled materials.

Two cocoa farmers planting trees in Peru

Prosperity

For most Fairtrade goods there is a Fairtrade Minimum Price which is set to cover the cost of sustainable production for that product in that region. If the market price for that product is higher than our minimum price, then producers should receive the market price.

This acts as a vital safety net for farmers and workers and protects them from fluctuations in the market prices of the products they grow for a living. Fairtrade is the only certification scheme that offers this unique minimum price protection for farmers.

Over and above the Fairtrade Minimum Price, the Fairtrade Premium is an additional sum of money which goes into a communal fund for workers and farmers to use – as they see fit - to improve their social, economic and environmental conditions.

Producers determine democratically what is most important to them; whether this is education or healthcare for their children, improving their businesses or building vital infrastructure such as roads and bridges for their community.

Two female coffee farmers completing paperwork in Kenya

Fairtrade and the Sustainable Development Goals

Fairtrade’s work helping to empower farmers and workers means the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) closely align with our impacts, and is a cause very close to my heart.

Sustainable development is about helping people to escape the crushing poverty many communities in the world today face, in a way that protects the finite environmental systems of our world. It's a way of working for a better today, without compromising the planet for tomorrow.

The SDGs outline 17 global commitments to end poverty, protect the environment and the planet, and bring the people of the world greater peace and prosperity. At Fairtrade, our principles and programs relate directly to achieving eight of the goals, and provide systemic support for the rest.

Goal 1 of the SDGs is to end poverty in all its forms everywhere. Small-scale farmers and workers in developing countries are some of the most marginalised people in the world. They often face inadequate pay and exploitative conditions that can lock families into a poverty cycle for generations. Fairtrade works with more than 1.6 million farmers and producers to ensure they receive a fair price for their produce or labour and are able to invest in their futures.

Goal 2 is to end hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture. When small-scale farmers and workers have access to a fair wage they are better placed to invest in storage facilities and secondary income streams to make farms more resilient, or implement better farming methods to improve yields. Sometimes a fair wage can be the difference between being able to buy a range of food for a farming family or having to live on the one crop they produce.

Goal 4 aims to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all. When a farming family has a sustainable income children are less likely to have to work to help support their relatives. If a parent or parents can provide for their children, those kids are more likely to be able to remain in school and get an education that will offer them more control over their future and increase the job options they have when they grow up. Fair wages and higher incomes under the Fairtrade system mean that families can afford books and uniforms for their school-aged children. Communities can also use the Fairtrade Premium – an extra amount paid per a metric tonne of produce – to invest in the programs of their choice, including schools for children in the community, or training and education in farming, gender equality or sustainability for workers.

The aim of Goal 5 is to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls. Women working in agriculture in developing countries produce 60-80 percent of the world's food, but make up only 10-20 percent of land owners. Women can be excluded from decision-making, and traditional and cultural gender inequality can reduce their access to property, money and other resources they need to earn living. Fairtrade incorporates gender equality and women's rights into its programming, to make sure we're working together towards a better future for all.

Two members of the Mfama cocoa co-operative in Ghana reading a document

Goal 8 seeks to promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all. Fairtrade works towards a trade system that rejects exploitative or child labour and builds sustainable conditions and pay into the supply chain. We believe a more equitable economic system improves employment opportunities and standards, and ensures the viability of small-scale farming and production not just for this generation, but into the future as well.

The aim of Goal 12 is to ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns. Fairtrade works with farmers to improve the volume and quality of their crops, while reducing the impact on natural resources, the environment, or water tables. We also encourage conscious consumption, asking purchasers to be aware of where their shopping comes from and the real cost of buying it.

Goal 13 is to take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts. Fairtrade farmers have repeatedly told us that climate change is one of the biggest challenges they face, and that environmental conditions are changing far faster than expected. So Fairtrade is increasing support for adaptation efforts by training farmers in new techniques, helping them build more resilient crops and working with organisations that can provide specialist tools and training. We will also help farmers advocate at governmental level to obtain support for adaptation and mitigation efforts.

The aim of Goal 17 is to strengthen the means of implementation and revitalise the global partnership for sustainable development. Just as nations, intergovernmental bodies and non-government organisations are working together to support the Sustainable Development Goals, Fairtrade is committed to working at every level – farm, cooperative, national, global – to improve the livelihoods and lives of farmers and producers in developing countries. Our global partnership includes offices in developed countries increasing both awareness and demand of Fairtrade goods, right through to the farmer producing them; Fairtrade leverages the strength of its markets and collective bargaining power of unions to change the lives of individuals.

Click here to learn more about Fairtrade’s work towards achieving the UN SDGs

So now you’re familiar with the important work Fairtrade is doing to change lives and protect the environment, it’s up to you to Make the Switch!

Remember, a simple switch in your kitchen makes a big impact on farmers, communities and our planet.

Click here to get in touch and find out just how easy it is support Fairtrade in your workplace or business.

Don’t forget to share this article with your friends, family and colleagues, via email or social media.

We want as many of you as possible to Make the Switch!

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