We all heard about fair trade coffee, wine, chocolate,... But have you ever thought there would be fair trade Vodka? It exist!
A non-profit making organisation, TransFair USA, recently launched FAIR.Vodka. The FAIR.Vodka is the first fair trade alcoholic product. You can buy a bottle for 35,00 USD in Bay Area stores and restaurants in America.
As Jean-Francois Daniel, co-founder of Fair Trade Spirits Company, said, fair trade products don’t give the farmers charity, but they get a liveable wage for their products so that they can invest. The alcoholic drink is made by Bolivian farmers. The FAIR.Vodka is a result of two years research by French chemicals, distillers.
The company also created another fair trade spirit: FAIR. Goji, a berry fruit liqueur. The liqueur is made by berries of the Himalaya. To make the liqueur, they extract the essence of the fruit.
It amazed me that fair trade spirits exist. But it is a good way, to give the producers (especially farmers) a liveable wage.
Consumers pay more for fair trade products, but critical people are wondering how much of this fair price is actually paid to the local farmers.
Oxfam assures the farmers indeed receive a fair price. But it’s very difficult to determine precisely how much the farmers receive because market prices fluctuate. Every day, market prices increase and decline. Not only market prices, but there are also other factors such as transportation, country and quality that determine the price that farmers receive. Though it’s very difficult to fix a fair price, there do exist fair trade minimum prices.
Oxfam claims they really pay one third of the returns.At first, I thought one third wasn’t a lot. But we may not forget the Oxfam organisations have to pay the co-workers and they also have to finance the yearly campaigns. Of course, Oxfam is some kind of charity institution, but an organisation cannot function without capital.
If all these factors are considered, we can conclude the developing countries do receive a so-called fair trade price. But I wonder what’s the use of paying a fair price if there’s a lack of knowledge? Maybe more is needed than just a fair price. In my opinion, it might be a better idea to encourage Western engineers to go to developing countries in order to help them expand decent infrastructure.
A company that spends a lot of time on environmentally-friendly producing is Chiquita. Chiquita is the largest producer and distributor of bananas. The multinational has a market share of about 40%. As you can read on www.chiquita.com, the company has four core values:
·Integrity Which means that they communicate with an open attitude.
Chiquita takes their responsibility for a better live of their employees. The
employees get a good work-life balance and they treat all the people the
They believe that it is important to spend a lot of time on the development
and growth of their employees. Teamwork is a good solution to encourage
They take their responsibility for the pollution of the earth and the places
where they work.
I will discuss one of Chiquita’s four core values: ‘Responsibility’.
Chiquita has done a lot of effort for the environment, for example:
One of Chiquita’s farms has been made into a nature preserve. The farm has anarea of hundred hectares, and it is used for tropical rainforest. Chiquita also has a Rainforest Alliance Certificate. Rainforest Alliance is an organisation that takes their responsibility for a durable agriculture. Chiquita has accommodated to meet the rigorous standards. The symbol of the Rainforest Alliance Certificate is the green frog on the left. As everybody knows, the rainforest is the largest forest in the world. It is responsible for the equilibrium of the environment. Millions of different animals and plants live and grow there. Deforestation is not good for the equilibrium, so Chiquita reforests and conserves the ground. They also built a water recycling system, so that they reuse water instead of wasting water. The banana multinational also takes their social responsibility. They give their staff a remuneration and benefits that are higher than the legal salary. They also give their employees schooling and medical care.
Chiquita has made a big advance. In the beginning of the nineties, Chiquita had participated in the Better Banana Project. There were a lot of problems: deforestation, over-reliance on pesticides, poor working conditions and waste management.  Every banana that was not good enough to sell on the market, they dropped on a mountain. If there were one ton of bananas sold, there was two ton of waste produced.
But during the years, Chiquita has advanced and had made a lot of efforts to take their responsibility. In my opinion, it is good that they want to take responsibility for the environment and the community. But we have to be sure that it is not a ‘lie’ of the management of the company. It has to be controlled by extern controllers, because there are a lot of people who don’t believe these facts.
According to one of the co-founders of the Fairtrade system, Frans Van Der Hoff, Fairtrade is facing a crucial crisis which should be a wake-up call for analyzing and rethinking the current situation.
Fairtrade products are misinterpreted as “charity goods”which started to confuse people about the true goals and impact of the system.The misunderstandings are caused by the constant creation of new labeling systems and by the fact that big stores also want a piece of the action. Big companies like Nestlé, Wal-Mart and Starbuck are just in it for the money according to Van Der Hoff. They see it merely as a new potential market that can increase margins.
The Western countries can’t just undo what they have created by raising some money, the real solution lies in the creation of a different system that takes other values into account. Van Der Hoff points out that the original objectives of fairtrade come down to 2 things. First of all, it provides a minimal income and creates a kind of security for the local producers who can then start to expand their business.Second of all, these farmers get together and organize themselves so they can get the government to start listening to them (political empowerment). "Fairtrade has to be about changing the way of doing business!"
It seems like fairtrade is more than just a system, it should be perceived as an attitude. But I don’t think that selling those products for profit-reasons is a bad thing. I doubt it that the local producers are unhappy when stores distribute their products “for the wrong reasons”. Isn’t it something positive when we can finally say that free trade and fair trade can actually come in one package?(Fairtradecommunity + interview)
Most of the discussions about fair trade are situated in the food sector, people especially talk about coffee plantations. But fair trade deals with much more than just the alimentary sector. We should take a look at the general view of all businesses, so clothing can’t be forgotten.
Tompkins Point Clothing is a very good example of fair trade in the clothing business. Scott Leeder, the founder of this enterprise, grew up in New Jersey as a typical American citizen and he started his career at Wall Street. But suddenly, his life changed drastically when he accepted a job as chief financial officer at an organic trading company, which is settled in Hyderabad, a town in India.
After having seen the living conditions at the farms, he decided to create a company with fair trade instead of benefits as main goal: Tompkins Point Clothing. The big difference with other companies is that he buys his sources directly from the farmers, to be able to pay them a higher remuneration. This way of trading is a very good example how fair trade can be put in reality in almost every business.
But the company’s fair trade activities don’t stop there. Tompkins Point Clothing really invests in the future of the Indians with lots of initiatives, for example by funding the education of all their factory workers’ children.
Tompkins Point Clothing shows us how quality and fair trade can live equally together, and the enterprise sets an example every business should try to follow.
In 2000, Ben & Jerry’s, the popular ice cream company, acquired the brand of Unilever Corporation. However, a lot of fans thought the company would lose ethical stance, but they were wrong.
Many costumers buy Ben & Jerry’s for their ethics. The company has a social responsibility. Ten years after they received the brand, Ben & Jerry’s is making plans to replace all the ingredients by fair trade products.
By 2013, the company will have changed the whole production of 121 different tastes, they will compose the products of Fair Trade Certified ingredients. Everything is mentioned in their “entire global flavour portfolio”. Ben & Jerry’s will collaborate with more than 27.000 farmers.
The company already used some Fair Trade Certified ingredients. I agree entirely with Jerry Greenfield (co-founder of Ben & Jerry’s) on what he says: “I felt that only going part way wasn't enough. I believe it's a question of simple fairness.” 
In my opinion, every company has to use Fair Trade Certified products. Using fair trade products is a good way to make sure that every farmer or producer gets a normal, fair price for their products, protects the employees so that they are no longer exploited,... I think it’s very important that everyone can work in good working conditions for a good and liveable remuneration. I don’t want to buy products that are made by employees that are exploited, and I hope they will change something about it !
People all over the world realize that fair trade is an important issue that can not be ignored. This article gives us the answer to the following question: do customers really adapt their shopping behaviour?
According to survey, the answer clearly is yes! Despite the economic recession we are facing at the moment, the sales of Fair Trade Certified products continue to rise considerably. Due to the crisis, the growth slowed down but the sales of fair trade goods still increased by 10%, which is very remarkable.
This striking trend hasn’t been unnoticed by companies, who are all aware of the fact that fair trade could be the gap in the market they are all looking for. Selling fair trade products can provide salesmen a huge market advance.
We can conclude that this trend of growing sense of responsibility can entail nothing but advantages, as the group of socially-minded people has expanded from a few idealists to a very large group of consumers.