Fair Trade farmer works to replant coconut trees

Fair Trade farmer works to replant coconut trees

Amid the coconut boom, Fair Trade certification empowers farmers and workers to improve their lives and protect the environment.

Although coconut products are booming in popularity, the individuals producing them are not always reaping the rewards. There is a significant gap between skyrocketing sales in North America and poverty level incomes earned by farmers in key coconut producing economies. In the Philippines, one of the world’s leading coconut producers, an estimated 60 percent of small-scale coconut farmers live in poverty.

Some of the most important challenges faced by coconut farmers include:

  • Extreme poverty: Coconut farmers are among the poorest of the poor in countries like Indonesia and the Philippines, which threatens the sustainability of coconut farming as a livelihood. Low and volatile farm gate prices, low productivity, and a lack of diversified sources of income perpetuate poverty among coconut farming communities and limit their ability to access important resources such as quality food, education, sufficient healthcare, fair credit, etc.
  • Unfavorable and variable prices: An average single-serving coconut water from a leading brand sells for around $1.50 in the United States, yet farmers receive about $0.11-0.20 per nut. Extreme volatility of these farm gate nut prices make it difficult for farmers to plan and smooth their consumption over time and harvests.
  • Low yields and declining productivity: Particularly as coconut trees age, their yields decline significantly. Many of the world’s coconut producing trees are 50-60 years old, well beyond productive years. This results in declining overall supply and income for farmers, many of whom lack the necessary resources and technical assistance to replant unproductive trees.
  • Environmental vulnerability: A recent United Nations report identified the Philippines as the third-most at-risk from climate change in the world, meaning farmers are often subject to the damaging effects of violent weather and pests.
Coconut School Feeding Project

Fair Trade coconuts help to feed children healthy meals in schools

Fair Trade certification aims to address these and other issues by helping coconut farmers to develop sustainable livelihoods and strong communities, and to become better stewards of the land. One way this happens is through the rigorous Fair Trade standards—covering areas like child and forced labor, safe working conditions, water conservation and proper waste disposal. Another way is through the Fair Trade Community Development Premium. On top of the sale price, farmers earn an additional premium for each coconut sold. These funds are collectively maintained by the farmers and invested in community projects that address critical needs such as improved healthcare, food security, education, agricultural training and business development. Here is an overview of some projects farmers have already invested in to address the biggest issues they face.

  • Education

School supplies – to ensure children have proper materials to be productive in school
Scholarships – to subsidize tuition fees and higher education costs for children of farmers

  • Healthy Communities

School feeding program – to ensure nutritious meals for children in the community
Water purification station – to improve access to clean water for the entire community
Community rice buying and retailing program – to improve access to quality food staples

  • Resilient and Supportive Communities

Disaster fund – to help farmers to recover more quickly from unexpected disaster, like typhoons
Burial assistance – to support funeral costs for members that pass away

  • Sustainable and Productive Farms

Livestock program – to support transportation of coconuts from farm to buyer
Tree replanting program – to ensure productive farms and sustainable livelihoods for years to come

  • Financial Sustainability and Livelihood Development

Micro-lending program – to provide funds with nominal interest to farmers to start their own businesses and cover emergencies
Decorticating Machine – to enable farmers to earn additional income from processing coconut husks

Fair Trade is also a way for companies to build strong, reliable, transparent supply chains that foster long-term relationships with farmers. And, it’s an opportunity for consumers to choose high-quality products that also improve lives and protect the environment.

Coconut fiber processing center

We are proud to offer Fair Trade Certified coconut products to create new economic opportunities for coconut farmers across the globe,” said Nora Pittenger, Fair Trade USA’s Senior Manager for Consumer Packaged Goods. “With demand for coconuts on the rise, Fair Trade USA is empowering consumers and businesses to choose products that not only taste good, but also do good.

Fair Trade USA, the leading third-party certifier of Fair Trade products in North America, announced the launch of Fair Trade Certified coconut products into the global market in February 2014. Beginning with coconut waters and oils, Fair Trade USA welcomes the versatile nut into its offerings with the aim of improving the lives of small-scale coconut farmers, and protecting workers in coconut processing facilities. The first Fair Trade Certified coconut products to hit store shelves include: Naked Coconut Water (1 liter), Nutiva Virgin Coconut Oil (15 and 23 oz. glass), as well as Nutiva’s O’Coconut Treats. Recently launched products include: Arrowhead Mills coconut flour, Rice and Shine Cereal and Spectrum Coconut Oil.

FTkidsThe following post is written by Parker Townley of Fair Trade Campaigns. Parker has been working extensively this summer preparing for the Back to School Photo Contest raising awareness among college students on child slave labor and mobilizing campuses to advocate the use of Fair Trade chocolate. See how you can take action today!

Every child deserves an education.  But, according to the International Labour Organization (ILO), child labor is a reality for 168 million boys and girls in Latin America, Africa and Asia.  Can you imagine your brother, sister, cousin, neighbor, or YOU picking cocoa beans instead of going to school as a child?


It’s easier than you think to make a stand for children. Fair Trade standards prohibit child slave labor on certified cocoa farms in Latin America and Africa. 

Combat Child Slave Labor with Fair Trade Colleges & Universities!

Our mission is to connect college students to a global movement, mobilizing campuses to advocate for change. Advocates challenge their College or University to live up to commitments to sustainability and social justice.

Your actions can empower hundreds, even thousands, on your campus to purchase Fair Trade chocolate and provide a much greater impact to the farmers and artisans who grow, pick and ship the chocolate (and other products) you love.

FTCUThree Ways YOU can Make a Difference:

1)    Join us for the Back to School Photo Contest from August 25th to September 12th. Thousands of students will be raising awareness about issues in the cocoa industry and taking action on their campuses. Participating groups receive event kits that include Fair Trade Chocolate samples!


2)    Find a campaign near you – we’ve got over 100 campaigns on campuses across the country. Connect with a group of passionate advocates in your community.

3)    Start an official Fair Trade campaign on your campus. You have the power to educate your community, get started today by clicking here.

Get your university to commit to a system that prohibits child slave labor in the production of the chocolate available in your dining halls, cafes, offices, and sporting events. We challenge YOU to change the world one university at a time!

Questions? Feel free to contact Fair Trade Colleges & Universities National Organizer Parker Townley at: ptownley@fairtradeusa.org

The following blog post is written by Global Exchange summer intern, Sophie Ipsen about her summer project researching corporate criminals for our Top Ten Most Wanted Corporate Criminals of 2014 list. Thank you, Sophie for all your help and hard work all summer!


I’m Sophie Ipsen, a 20-year-old college student studying international relations and global business at the University of Southern California.

Growing up, I started volunteering in my community: tutoring low-income students, serving food to recovering drug-addicts, and assisting people with disabilities. These experiences first opened my eyes to the injustices and inequalities in my own backyard. Now, as a young adult and an American consumer, I have become cognizant of the global challenges created by the corporate domination all around the world.

Large corporations control almost everything we touch: from the clothing we wear, to the computers we work on, to the medications we take, and even the food we eat. I was aware of sweatshops, human trafficking, and forced labor prior to my time at Global Exchange, but I had not fully considered all the implications of today’s corporation giants. Over the past several weeks, I have been investigating corporations that are guilty of human rights abuses and environmental disasters for Global Exchange’s Top Ten Most Wanted Corporate Criminal List of 2014.

It was through this process that I realized these large corporations are not only forcing cheap or wage-free labor, but also seizing indigenous lands, destroying communities, causing species extinction, and killing people in devastating factory disasters, just to name a few offenses. Of course I had heard stories on the news about horrific disasters like the 2013 Rana Plaza factory collapse, but I, as do many others, had not truly understood how this connects to my daily life and my decisions. The fact is the companies that are exploiting human rights and the environment everyday are the same companies from which we consume everyday.

But this does not have to be the case, we are the consumers and fortunately we have the ability to decide what we purchase. There is a tremendous opportunity available for us, the consumers, to take a stand, boycott corporations violating human rights, and support institutions like Fair Trade.

This summer, the other interns and I embarked on a project to continue Global Exchange’s campaign pressuring San Francisco’s Ghirardelli Chocolate Company to go Fair Trade. We worked together to plan a virtual, online rally as well as an in-person rally at the San Francisco flagship store in Ghirardelli Square on July 24th. While preparing for our big day, we visited Fair Trade USA’s offices in Oakland and got an in-depth look at Fair Trade and how the certification process works. I learned that Fair Trade certified cocoa farms ensure that no child labor is used, farmers earn a fair, living wage, and a premium goes back to the community.


Global Exchange interns at Ghirardelli rally

After doing our research and preparing our rally materials, we took to the streets and started talking to our fellow consumers. Many people were very interested in learning about Fair Trade and joined in to tell Ghirardelli to make the important switch. This experience, speaking with Ghirardelli’s consumers started to spread the word about the importance of purchasing power, and showed me that the general public really can make a difference. Corporations really do listen to their consumers, and it takes our voices to make our desires known. As consumers we can endorse Fair Trade through our purchases of commodities like chocolate, coffee, bananas, sugar, and even some jewelry and clothing.

As my research continued, we finalized the corporations for this year’s Corporate Criminals list, and I then connected with other non-profit organizations challenging these corporations. I learned that large corporations really care about their public image, and do not like to be publicly shamed. When people start to speak up and spread the word about a corporation’s abuses, the corporation has to start taking action. The more the people know about a corporation’s abuses, it is less able to continue these abuses in the public eye.

So which corporations made the list? There are 10 companies form a wide variety of industries. And the corporations are… Alpha Natural Resources, Bayer, Carnival Corporation, FIFA, Gap Inc., Ghirardelli, Glencore Xstrata, HSBC, Koch Industries, and PepsiCo. This year we also decided to include Monsanto as a “repeat offender,” as it has been featured on our list before. Now that you know the corporations, you may have expected a few, and are probably surprised by a few as well. I strongly encourage you to read the list, and discover the unfortunate truth about these corporations!

I hope that after reading through the list, you will reconsider these corporations and take action through what you purchase. Additionally, we have added a new element to the list this year, an opportunity for you to easily take action from home. Each featured corporation includes a link to take action by either emailing an executive or signing a petition. I encourage you to do so and to also connect with other organizations working on the issues.

Take-ActionThis is an opportunity for you to start conversation about human rights and environmental abuses in your own networks. Share the information with your family, friends, and co-workers. You can start by making small changes in your everyday life that will grow and become large positive changes for our world. It’s time to fight back against corporate power and give the rights back to the people. Use the list as an educational opportunity, and then take a stand to put people over profits!

A few months ago Fair Trade USA (formerly Transfair USA) resigned their membership from international Fair Trade labeling organization, Fairtrade International (FLO) due to “[differing] perspectives on how to best achieve a common mission.” Despite Fair Trade USA’s 2011 announcement of it’s intentions to withdraw from FLO, many in the Fair Trade world had hoped reconciliation would be reached before the January 1, 2012 deadline.

There has been much debate and talk around this shake-up in the Fair Trade world with both Fair TradeUSA and FLO elaborating on the reasoning behind the transition.

Since the announcement, there has been a lot of change brewing with both labeling organizations. First, Fair Trade USA revealed its new labels that will appear on Fair Trade USA certified products and revealed their new initiative called “Fair Trade for All” which aims to double its impact by 2015. So, for vendors that choose to remain with Fair Trade USA but under its new certification standards, products that previously carried the ‘Bucket Boy’ label will now carry this new label.

And now, after extensive discussions with various stakeholders in the U.S., Fairtrade International has announced it will be launching new operations in the U.S. and maintaining the certification standards that FLO uses.

Fairtrade International outlined the components behind this launch, which include introducing the international FAIRTRADE Mark in the U.S. market, continued work with stakeholders to design and build an organizational structure that will reflect the needs of members and work to further expand Fair Trade in the U.S. consumer market. During the transition to an operating U.S. office, Fairtrade Canada will administer and monitor the certification and membership of the FAIRTRADE mark in the U.S. (Full disclosure: Global Exchange was at a meeting with Fair Trade advocates convened by FLO two weeks before the announcement was made public and participated in two consultations in the lead up).

According the FLO,

We recognize that there are many different approaches to Fair Trade. The global Fairtrade system will compete respectfully with FTUSA, to ensure that our cumulative efforts will continue to strengthen producers’ position in international trade and improve livelihoods. 

Only time will tell what consumers notice in the immediate and long term with another Fair Trade label in the market and different certification standards. Global Exchange will continue to advocate for Fair Trade through our retail stores and campaigns to make sure that more people are educated about the positive benefits of Fair Trade for the producers, people, and the planet.

Fair Trade Store Manager Jocelyn at Oakland General Strike

Lots happening in the Occupy movement around the country.

Here at Global Exchange we took part in our local Occupy Oakland General Strike/Day of Action  last week (photos here!) while our Fair Trade stores showed solidarity that day by donating 9.9% of sales to our local Occupy groups. We continue to remain actively involved in local Occupy groups.

Fair Traders are issuing statements of support and/or endorsement of the Occupy movement. Here are a few:
Fair Trade Trends: Fair Trade Trends Supports Occupy Wall Street!
Equal Exchange: Equal Exchange Stands with Occupy Wall Street
Global Exchange: Take Action Occupy Together

Articles are popping up with the Occupy/Fair Trade theme:
The Bullet: Corporations Occupy Fair Trade
Fair World Project: The “99%” Weighs In On Food and Fair Trade
Cooperative News: Occupy Fair Trade!

What else? I wonder what other Fair Traders are doing as part of the Occupy movement. We’d love to hear from you about what you are doing, and what ideas you have for how fellow Fair Traders can get involved in the Occupy movement. Feel free to share your thoughts in the Comments section.


Paul Rice, President & CEO of Fair Trade USA (formerly TransFair USA) recently announced the invitation for public comment on the draft Farm Workers Standard, and for nominations to the Coffee Innovation Council.

Paul Rice on standard setting process:

Multi-stakeholder consultation and engagement have always been important to Fair Trade USA. This approach is all the more essential as we innovate for greater impact through our new vision, Fair Trade for All.

I am excited to share with you Fair Trade USA’s standard setting process and invite you to participate in the public comment period for the Draft Fair Trade USA Farm Workers Standard that extends through December 31, 2011. We are eager to hear your feedback.

So this is your opportunity to provide feedback on changes taking place within Fair Trade USA’s standard setting. To participate, review the standard, download the feedback form, and submit your comments and recommendations to standards@fairtradeusa.org before December 31, 2011. An overview of Fair Trade USA’s standards setting process and work plan will be available in the coming weeks on Fair Trade USA’s  website.

Paul Rice on Fair Trade USA’s Innovation Council:

Fair Trade USA is creating a Coffee Innovation Council to help us identify the best ways to innovate so we provide more impact for more people. This group will help us analyze feedback and ideas from different stakeholder groups.  It will also provide input on standards, pilots, impact assessments and innovation strategy.

In an effort to draw upon the long-term experience and work of the Fair Trade movement, we are excited to announce a call for nominations to Coffee Innovation Council. As part of our commitment to stakeholder engagement, we invite nominations until November 30. Nominees will be chosen, notified and announced by the end of the year.

To be selected, nominees must share our vision for Fair Trade for All and agree that we must include those who have been systematically left out of the historical Fair Trade system. We are looking for diverse perspectives and relevant expertise that can help us achieve our objectives in the most impactful way. If you are interested in joining the council or nominating someone else, please send an email to  mzamora@fairtradeusa.org  stating how you or the nominee support our vision, and what  experience or expertise will help us achieve our objectives.  


This past Halloween, children and families spread the word about Fair Trade, switching up holiday conventions a bit while having a good time to boot. Folks from across the country sent in orders for the popular Reverse Trick-or-Treating kit, and Global Exchange distributed nearly 1,000 of them to supporters, both seasoned vets of Reverse Trick-or-Treating and first-timers.

The excitement received coverage in USA Today and the Boston Herald, to name a few. Read more updates from our Fair Trade campaign here.


Small Farmers. Big Change: An Analysis of Fair Trade: Reflections from a Founder (Part III)
Supermarket News: Fair Trade USA to Review Labeling Policy
Eat Drink Better: Buying Local vs Fair Trade
Businessweek: A Furor over Fair Trade
Inspire Magazine: Cathedral gets golden fairtrade weather vane

Got interesting Fair Trade news to share? Email me or share it in the comments section. We’re all ears!

Happy Fair Trade Month everyone! After a month on the road, I’m back rounding up the latest Fair Trade news, and boy is there a lot of it!

Photo credit: Fair Trade Resource Network


On September 15, 2011 Fair Trade International (FLO) and Fair Trade USA issued a joint statement about the decision to part ways:

Fairtrade International (FLO) and Fair Trade USA (FTUSA) share a belief in the importance of empowering producers and workers around the world to improve their lives through better terms of trade. However, as we look to the future, we recognize that we have different perspectives on how best to achieve this common mission.

As a consequence, Fair Trade USA has decided to resign its membership of the Fairtrade International (FLO) system effective December 31, 2011.

You can read Fair Trade USA’s statement about why they are leaving FLO here. Also check out the Catholic Relief Services blog post Paul Rice makes the case for Fair Trade for All.

The FTUSA website announced plans to work with Scientific Certification Systems for new standards, and will continue to accept FLO certification for existing standards. Fair Trade USA states on its website, “We have partnered with Scientific Certification Systems, a globally-respected, independent certification agency with more than 25 years of experience, to conduct audits and producer certification against our new standards.

This announcement has spurred much reaction and debate among the international Fair Trade community. Three major producer networks issued statements opposing
FTUSA’s Withdrawal from FLO

In response to the news, Fair Trade Resource Network just announced plans to conduct 3 public webinars  in October and November with panelists from FTUSA and FLO, to discuss what implications the split has for producers and the Fair Trade movement.

The first webinar is described as “A Community Discussion of What Fair Trade USA Leaving Fairtrade International Means for Producers and Fair Trade” and Paul Rice, CEO of Fair Trade USA is confirmed as a panelist. To sign up for this webinar go here.


Reverse-Trick-or-Treating is a way for kids on Halloween to help end the exploitation of children in the cocoa industry and raise awareness of Fair Trade.

Trick-or-Treaters hand Fair Trade chocolate back to adults, with informational cards attached, to explain the problems of the cocoa industry and how Fair Trade presents a solution.

How you can get involved:  Order your Reverse Trick-or-Treat kit. (Deadline to order your kit is by October 13th.) Each kit contains 15 mini chocolates, informational cards and an instruction leaflet. The kits are free, you pay just $7.50 for shipping, but we are asking participants to round up if they are able, to help cover costs.

If you don’t manage to get one of the kits, you can still take part! Download free flyers and pass them out on Halloween. If you are part of a group, school or organization and want to purchase a group kit, please visit Equal Exchange.

October brings cooler weather, spooky festivities, and Fair Trade! Now in its 8th year, Fair Trade month is a time for folks to take action and get involved in this socially responsible movement. This year’s theme is “Every Purchase Matters.”

Fair Trade USA describes Fair Trade month:

Throughout the month, conscious consumers and ethically-minded brands will unite to celebrate and promote Fair Trade. A variety of education events, in-store sampling programs and online initiatives have been planned to help increase awareness and sales of Fair Trade Certified products, ultimately leading to greater impact for farmers and workers in developing countries.

Here’s a list of top ten ways to get involved in Fair Trade month.

My faves Ben & Jerry are back at it. Once again, they brought Fair Trade into the mainstream spotlight by guest appearing on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. Some may a recall an earlier Jimmy Fallon visit by this dynamic duo back in March when they released their new Fair Trade ice-cream flavor.

Here’s Ben & Jerry on Jimmy Fallon earlier this week:




Scores of beautiful and insightful photos are now competing in the third annual Fair Trade Photo Contest. The 12 winning photos will be featured in the 2012 Fair Trade Calendar. Vote for up to 5 Photos by July 16.
Please help share positive and diverse Fair Trade stories by encouraging your contacts to vote in the Fair Trade photo contest, and don’t forget to vote yourself!

The 12 winning Fair Trade photos will be featured in the 2012 Fair Trade Calendar, produced by FTRN and Fair Trade Federation.

Pre-order your calendars today: The 2012 Fair Trade calendar is available for pre-purchase now. The savings are big if you order early. Check out the pre-order early bird prices here. The more you get the more you save.


By making S’mores with Fair Trade chocolate!

Be part of the Fair Trade S’mores revolution.

Rock your picnic, barbeque or campfire with gooey, chocolatey Fair Trade s’mores.
Why? Because you’ll send a message to Hershey that it’s gotta get child and forced labor out of its cocoa. And you’ll enjoy your s’mores so much more with chocolate that frees kids from child labor and empowers cocoa farmers to free themselves from poverty.

During your s’more-fest, be sure to:
1.    Collect signatures on this petition asking Hershey to stop using child labor and become Fair Trade Certified
2.    Count the s’mores you eat and register them online
3.    Take pictures and videos of yourself with our s’mores poster and email the youtube link or your photos to fairtrade@globalexchange.org

Visit Global Exchange’s Fair Trade Campaign page for more s’mores event ideas and free resources.

Traditional block printing meets modern design


Introducing Summer Saturday Savings! Every Saturday this summer July 2- Sept 3, 2011, the Global Exchange Fair Trade Store in San Francisco will be offering 15% OFF on featured clothing, scarves, tablecloths & kitchen ware, AND much more!

Kicking things off this Saturday, July 2nd, there will be free blockprinting demonstrations, a kids’ station, and customers will enjoy 15% off all summer dresses – just in time for that Fourth of July barbeque.

Learn about the traditional block printing technique used on many Fair Trade pieces this Saturday! Plus, enter a raffle by sharing what ‘independence’ means to you for chance to win a gift certificate to the Fair Trade store.

Event Details
Where: Global Exchange Fair Trade Store
4018 24th Street
When: 1pm-4pm Saturday July 2nd
More info: Call (415) 648-8068


Check it out here:

Help the Raise the Bar Hershey folks reach their target of 1,500 video views. They’re aiming for1,500 views. You can help by sharing this link to it on your Facebook page and/or sending out this suggested tweet: Have you watched Kerry Kennedy’s #fairtrade rally speech yet? http://ow.ly/5svir via @gxfairtrade.

Michelle Obama, fashion modeling with spunk Photo credit: ecouterre.com



Here’s your roundup of the latest news and updates related to Fair Trade, including the new “Links Worth Checking Out” section at the end. Remember, if you’ve got Fair Trade related news to share, email me!


Photo Credit: Equal Exchange


Fair Trade has been making the rounds on TV lately. Last week Ben & Jerry’s brought Fair Trade to late night television. This week, Equal Exchange invaded reality television. The TV show The Biggest Loser slipped Fair Trade into the mix; Equal Exchange’s Organic Baking Cocoa, to be specific. The reality show cast members used the cocoa during one of the episodes to make low calorie treats. You can watch the entire episode for free online here.

Photo Credit: Village Markets of Africa

Village Markets of Africa, the Fair Trade mission of the Kenya Evangelical Lutheran Church, recently partnered with Lutheran affiliate Wittenberg University in Springfield, OH to make its Fair Trade business model a hands-on case study for Wittenberg’s entrepreneurial department curriculum.

This partnership will teach business students the social ethics of Fair Trade and provide them real world work experience so they are prepared to make a positive change when they graduate and enter the workforce. Many universities have gotten involved in the Fair Trade movement, but according to Village Markets of Africa Founder and Managing Director Jacob Schmalzle, Wittenberg University is the first to so dynamically incorporate Fair Trade into its curriculum.

Schmalzle shares this about the news:

This really is an exciting and innovative development in Fair Trade. Students at Wittenberg are visibly excited with these opportunities that combine a reputable business degree with hands-on experience in the social ethics and business of Fair Trade. It makes sense that Fair Trade education needs to take place here in the US if we are to expect our future business leaders to incorporate a Fair Trade approach in their ventures. Who knows where tomorrow’s leaders will take our Fair Trade movement!?!

For more information, visit the Village Markets of Africa website.

With Passover and Purim around the corner, Fair Trade Judaica is working with synagogues and other Jewish organizations around the U.S. to host a series of events in early-mid April, linking child labor in the cocoa fields with our Passover theme of liberation, and inspiring people to choose fair trade chocolate as an alternative.

Fair Trade Judaica will provide a DVD of The Dark Side of Chocolate (a documentary about children working in the cocoa fields in West Africa), discussion guides, educational materials and a Haggadah supplement to use at your home or organizational sedar. We are also working on a grant to support Fair Trade Kosher chocolate tastings.

For more information: email ilana@fairtradejudaica.org or call 510.926.2056.

If you’re planning to register for the 2011 Fair Trade Federation Conference in Milwaukee, WI, you’ll save yourself $100 per person if you sign up by this Friday, March 18.

This conference is all about building up Fair Trade, and it’s happening May 6-8, 2011. The conference will feature practical training on the business of Fair Trade combined with opportunities for networking and community building.

For more information: Visit FTF’s website.

Article: West Africa issues global trade deal ultimatum
Article: Ivory Coast crisis: Cocoa embargo hurting small farmers
New blog: Human Trip India, all about Fair Trade travels in India
Book: Free Trade Doesn’t Work: What Should Replace It and Why by Ian Fletcher
Press Release from Fair Trade USA: Mainstream Consumers Drive Fair Trade Certified Sales Up 24 Percent

Check back here on our Fair Trade blog for more Fair Trade News Round-Ups…your one-stop shop for current Fair Trade news and events. And if you’ve got big Fair Trade news to share, email me!

A group of businesses, organizations and consumers are accusing TransFair USA of attempting to own the term ‘Fair Trade’.

In October of last year, TransFair USA officially changed their name to Fair Trade USA, thus sparking the debate within the Fair Trade movement about the ramifications of one organization claiming ownership of the term ‘Fair Trade.’ On Monday, the Organic Consumers Association (OCA) sent out a petition urging everyone to tell TransFair USA that “Fair Trade is a movement, not a brand.”

One organization, TransFair USA, is currently in the process of changing its name to “Fair Trade USA” and applied for the name to be trademarked. Such an umbrella phrase attempts to legally claim, as an exclusive brand, a term that encompasses this broad movement far beyond its specific work.
[We] believe that the term [Fair Trade] should be celebrated as a movement, not a brand claimed by any one organization.

In a press release from Fair Trade USA regarding their name change they stated that, “[their] updated, simplified name and brand identity will support the organization’s efforts to increase awareness of Fair Trade among a broader consumer audience, increase sales of Fair Trade Certified™ products, and generate more benefits for farmers and workers around the world.”

Currently, Fair Trade USA works with 800 companies and has certified more than 6,000 products since its founding in 1998. Already a big force in the Fair Trade movement, is their name change a way of claiming ‘Fair Trade’ as an exclusive brand for themselves as OCA contends or will this organizational identity shift benefit the movement as a whole by increasing the name and concept recognition of ‘Fair Trade’ as Fair Trade USA states?

Since the petition was released in early January 2011, the coalition against the rebranding of Fair Trade USA has expanded to include leading Fair Trade organizations and companies such as Fair Trade Federation and Equal Exchange as well as over 8,000 consumers.

Such an overwhelming response has not gone unnoticed by Fair Trade USA as they e-mailed the United Students for Fair Trade listserv in response to the petition:

Regarding our new name, we have, in fact, submitted a service mark application for our new corporate name and logo “Fair Trade USA.” We believe that this is appropriate as the U.S. member of the umbrella organization, Fairtrade International.

We do agree that Fair Trade is a movement, not a brand. Therefore, we will
not attempt to trademark [the] term ‘Fair Trade.’ In fact, no one can trademark a fair use term such as ‘Fair Trade.’ That’s why groups like the Fair Trade Resource Network, Fair Trade Federation, and the Domestic Fair Trade Alliance all have the words “Fair Trade” in their names.

A debate like this is just part of the growing pains that have come with a movement that has greatly expanded in the last few years, and one in which only time and open dialogue will help bring all sides to a working consensus.

However, in the end we should all be able to agree that Fair Trade is a unifying force with the ultimate goal of bringing fairness and justice to the trade table.

Have something to share regarding this debate? Who owns Fair Trade? Is it somebody, nobody, or everybody? Be part of the open dialogue and weigh in on the issue in the comments section below.

Every day this October FairTradeUSA will be highlighting several of the great companies that bring Fair Trade products to your grocer’s shelves, as well some of the international organizations that work closely with Fair Trade on the ground. Today is Global Exchange’s day! Stay tuned to the FairTradeUSA blog, Facebook page and Twitter page to see how you can enter to win a bag of Global Exchange label Thanksgiving Fair Trade coffee!

Cross-posted from the FairTradeUSA blog:

October is Fair Trade Month and Global Exchange wants you to get involved. It’s a month when we can celebrate the power that the Fair Trade movement has had around the world, linking you the consumer to the producer and their community. Throughout the years, Global Exchange has highlighted the importance of building the Fair Trade movement by making people-to-people ties in communities locally and globally.

This Halloween, get out your Fair Trade banana costume and participate in Reverse-Trick-or-Treating. The goal is for trick-or-treaters to switch it up and go door to door passing out informational cards attached with Fair Trade chocolate to raise awareness in their communities about poverty alleviation and economic justice for cocoa farmers around the world. Hear (and see) what last year’s participants had to say about this fun and creative action.

Can’t wait until the end of the month to help build the Fair Trade movement? Throughout October, you can participate in Global Exchange’s scavenger hunt which will bring you from the supermarket to the classroom and even to your Congressperson to promote an economic system that is better for workers and the planet. One clue will bring you to Global Exchange’s Fair Trade stores, where you will learn more about the producer groups we work with. One group of artisans we recently connected with in Rajasthan, India has been using an ancient technique of mud-block-printing to preserve a practice that is slowly disappearing while employing both men and women and strengthening the community.

Besides the incentive of spreading the Fair Trade word, participating in our scavenger hunt will make you eligible to win up to $200 in Fair Trade prizes. Build the movement and win.

With October well underway, it is time to reflect on the reasons behind making our purchases matter. With over 2.6 billion people in the world living in poverty, Fair Trade makes a difference in the lives of farmers, women and the environment. But only if people know about it.  Only 30% of Americans know what Fair Trade is—and we need your help to grow the movement this month. Join Global Exchange, Fair Trade USA and hundreds of other organizations and advocates out there to create a system of fairness, equality and sustainability.

Get more information of Global Exchange’s Fair Trade campaign: www.globalexchange.org/cocoa.
Pick coffee in Nicaragua, chocolate in the Dominican Republic, tea in Nepal or olives in Palestine on a Reality Tours Fair Trade delegation.
Visit our Fair Trade stores.
And of course, read our Fair Trade blog for the latest news and views of the movement.