2004, as reported by just-food.com: Fair trade,
a movement that originated around the simple idea of
paying producers a fair, livable wage for their goods,
has proven to be a popular concept. With the fair-trade
coffee niche gaining popularity producers of various
products around the world are hoping theirs will be
the next darling of the movement.
According to the Naples, NY-based ProductScan Online
database of new products, 69 new fair trade products,
including many new fair trade coffees, have been introduced
over the past two years in the US and Canada. That's
up significantly from 15 products in 2002 and just 6
in 2001. Indeed, fair trade, with its emphasis on a
fair price for agricultural products, is making waves
on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean. In the UK, the
charity Oxfam recently opened Britain's first fair trade
coffee shop, Progreso Café. It not only sells
hot fair trade coffees, but also fair trade cakes and
Fair trade: a fair price for farmers
According to trade reports, the roughly US$100m fair
trade coffee market is the fastest-growing sector of
the coffee industry. Though this niche makes up a very
small portion of a market that counts over $19bn in
sales in the United States alone, fair trade coffee
is beginning to attract attention. TransFair USA estimates
that 30 million pounds of fair trade coffee will be
imported into the US this year, nearly double the 18.7
million pounds that hit US shores in 2003.
The modern fair trade movement got its start in Europe
where a Dutch company began marketing fair trade coffee
as early as the late-1980s. The movement has gathered
momentum since then, spurred on by a disastrous price
decline in coffee (prices are down 70% since the late
1990s). This drop is blamed on the overproduction of
low-end coffee beans from countries like Vietnam and
A sign of how far the fair trade movement has come
was Procter & Gamble's late-2003 introduction of
Millstone Mountain Moonlight Fair Trade Certified Coffee.
On the foodservice front, Dunkin' Donuts added a new
line of espresso beverages made exclusively with Fair
Trade certified coffee beans that same year.
Fair trade moves into confectionery,
Though many Americans are still unfamiliar with the
fair trade concept, that could change as a new wave
of fair trade products based on fair trade fruits, sugar
and chocolate begins to hit store shelves.
Among the newcomers are Equal Exchange Organic Chocolates,
from West Bridgewater, MA-based Equal Exchange, which
are made with Fair Trade Certified cocoa and sugar from
small farmer cooperatives, and Better World Hot Cocoa
from Waterbury, VT-based Green Mountain Coffee Roasters.
Fair trade has also moved into teas where Bethesda,
MD-based Honest Tea introduced Peach-Oo-La-Long Tea,
a product Honest Tea says was the most successful ready-to-drink
tea introduction in the natural channel in 2003. The
beverage is made from Fair Trade certified oolong tea
with black tea and organic peach puree.
In the UK, the charity Oxfam has opened Britain's first
fair trade coffee shop – The Progreso Café
in Covent Garden, central London. The café is
a product of collaboration between Oxfam and coffee
cooperatives in Ethiopia, Honduras and Indonesia.
"If the fair trade cafe concept flies with consumers
who will be exposed to a broadening array of fair trade
foods, look for other packaged food and beverage categories
to jump on the fair trade bandwagon," said Tom
Vierhile, executive editor of Productscan Online.