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What is Fair Trade Coffee?

Published: 2021-09-23T15:18:31+0000 Updated: 2022-09-16T21:56:26+0000 Author: Abby Helgeson

Fair trade certified coffee means that the coffee has been audited throughout the supply chain to meet certain sustainability and labor standards. Fair trade coffee directly supports a better life for farming families in the developing world through fair prices and community development. The farmers learn how to market their harvested coffee with international buyers and manage their own business to compete in the global market. The farming families can then invest in their families’ healthcare and education, all while protecting their environment and working in safe and dignified working conditions. Lifting them up from poverty through trade, not aid.

The History Behind Fair Trade

Fair trade started from a movement to promote goods sold by small, independent producers across the globe. The first “fair trade” shop was started in the USA in 1958 after a woman named Edna Ruth Byler began importing needlecrafts from low-income women in South America. She set the groundwork for the first fair trade organization and soon after, SERRV International started to develop fair trade supply chains in developing countries. The fair trade movement began to take shape in Europe in the 1960s. The slogan, “Trade not Aid” was internationally recognized by 1968. European countries demanded improved sustainability and the ability to trace the imported product they purchased after the Second World War. Eventually Fair Trade International was established in Germany in 1997, creating set standards for fair trade around the world.

How to Support Fair Trade

  • Shop fair trade products: Products that are fair trade will usually have a certified mark on the product that looks like the image below.
  • Purchase food that is fair trade certified to support and empower farmers. Fair trade products include cocoa, coffee, flowers, sugar, tea, fresh fruit, honey, juices, rice, spices, and wine.
  • Give back: Donating to nonprofits is a great way to support fair trade and make an impact.
  • Become a Fair Trade Certified Business: Visit the Fair Trade website to learn how you can certify your products in your business! There are over 2,400 companies worldwide that are selling their certified products in stores and online, from corporations like Starbucks and Ben & Jerry’s to local companies such as Brooklyn Roasting Company and even start-ups like Hulya Home.

As you can see, fair trade organizations help empower individuals, build strong communities, and promote fair wages for farmers around the world. What’s not to love? Be sure to look for the fair trade symbol when you go on your next shopping trip to help support the cause! And once you have bought your fair trade certified coffee, why not enjoy it in your own branded coffee mug?!


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