Fair Trade Facts: What is fair trade?

The popularity of fair trade coffee

Less than half of the total volume of fair trade certified coffee is currently sold at fair trade terms because worldwide demand is still too small to absorb it all. Despite this, it appears that fair trade is becoming a trend among coffee connoisseurs. As of mid-2000, there were more than 50 importers and roasters in the United States licensed to sell fair trade coffee with the TransFair USA label.

Bags of fair trade coffee

Bags of Equal Exchange coffee, a
popular fair trade brand.

In a study conducted by Cone/Roper in 1998, 78 percent of consumers surveyed said they would rather purchase a product associated with a cause in which they believed, and 54 percent said they would pay more for a product that supports their cause. A consumer study conducted by TransFair USA in 1997 revealed that 49 percent of specialty coffee drinkers surveyed said they would buy fair trade coffee. This trend has not gone unnoticed by major coffee chains like Starbucks, Caribou Coffee and even McDonald's, who all sell fair trade certified coffee. The fair trade movement also has thrived through participation by religious groups, college campuses and environmentalists.

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