Fair Trade Facts: What is fair trade?

Why coffee?

The fair trade movement focuses on coffee for several reasons.

  • Coffee is second only to petroleum as the world’s most heavily-traded product.
  • Coffee cup

    Coffee is a part of the fair trade
    movement. Around the world,
    more than 20 million families
    work directly in harvesting coffee.

  • Coffee is the largest food import of the United States. In fact, the United Stated consumes one-fifth of the world’s coffee.
  • Around the globe, the annual consumption of coffee is estimated at 12 billion pounds. More than 130 million U.S. consumers drink coffee.
  • The United States typically purchases coffee from Brazil, Colombia, Mexico, Guatemala and Vietnam. The United States also buys coffee from Indonesia, Coast Rica, El Salvador, Peru, Venezuela, Ecuador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Uganda, Thailand, India and Papua New Guinea. All of these places are developing countries that could be considered third world.
  • An estimated 20 million families in 50 countries work directly in the cultivation of coffee. About 11 million hectares of the world’s farmland are dedicated to coffee cultivation.
  • There are approximately 10,000 coffee cafés and 2,500 specialty stores selling coffee in the United States, according to the Specialty Coffee Association of America. During the height of the coffee craze in the 1990s, Starbucks opened a store a day, and the satirical newspaper The Onion ran a story titled “New Starbucks opens in restroom of existing Starbucks.” Many of these family-owned coffee stores and chains do not sell fair trade coffee.

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