Fair trade is based on the principle that, while trade generates wealth, millions of people in poor countries are losing out. Fair traders advocate fair rules for trade, so that the producers can receive a living wage to cover basic needs such as food, housing, education and medical care. Fair trade producers are guaranteed safe working conditions, education assistance, development of sustainable environmental practices, technical and financial assistance for their communities, as well as the opportunity to market products without the need of a middleman. Fair trade campaigns help producers reach global markets with their fair trade products.
Fair trade coffee is one of the most popular fair trade products. The fair trade system imposes a minimum price to protect growers if the coffee market plummets below a certain level. Fair trade promises to provide workers with higher wages and improved working conditions. Firms marketing fair trade products purposely pay more for their raw materials, such as coffee beans. In Canada alone, the amount of fair trade coffee consumed went up from 425,000 kilograms in 2002 to five million kilograms in 2008, according to a CBC article. Major coffee chains market fair trade coffee at their locations, partnering in the business endeavour, according to Coffeeresearch.org.
Extra money paid to cocoa farmers is intended to help small farmers make improvements in their income and communities. Many products are also quality assured. Fair trade chocolate must be “Fair Trade certified,” according to University of California San Diego. Canadians consumed more than 17,500 kilograms of fair trade cocoa in 2002, according to a CBC article.
Several major beauty manufacturers. such as the U.K.-based Bodyworks Garage and French company L’Occitane, use fair trade crops in their products. One such product includes shea butter. The rare shea nut grown in Africa is used in cosmetic products such as soaps, creams and moisturisers. In 2007, fair-trade sales were above 8 tonnes of shea butter, according to Fairtrade Foundation. Brazil nuts cultivated in Peru are also being marketed in fair trade beauty products, according to the Foundation.