Fair Trade Facts: From crop to cup

How does fair trade change this process?

Woman harvesting coffee

A woman harvests coffee in Central
America. The beans she picks will be sold
as fair trade coffee. That means the crop
will be sold directly to importers and
roasters, and she will be paid a fair wage.

In the fair trade system, small farmers band together and form associations. These associations must meet certain criteria as set by the FLO to be registered as fair trade coffee producers. The associations then sell the farmers’ crops directly to importers and roasters, thus bypassing the middlemen who are typically responsible for pocketing the difference between the low amount they pay for coffee beans and the high amount at which they sell the beans.

The fair trade system also guarantees a certain amount of credit to the farmers. That way they can continue providing for their family after the harvest without selling themselves out in the future.

In the United States, coffee importers and roasters who wish to sell fair trade certified coffee must sign a licensing agreement with TransFair USA. TransFair monitors the importers and roasters to ensure that they abide by specific fair trade criteria.

© 2006 by Mesa Johnson
E-mail me at mmjohnson2@stthomas.edu