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Shiv Sharma
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Fair Trade Coffee Co

Fair trade coffee is coffee that is certified as having been produced and marketed to a stated set of standards. Many customers pay a higher price when buying coffee with the certification logo or brand in the belief that, by doing so, they are helping farmers in the Third World.

Fair trade coffee has become increasingly popular over the last ten years, and is now offered at a significant number of coffee retailers worldwide. In 2004, 24,222 tonnes (24,222,000 kg) of 7,050,000 tonnes (7.05×109 kg) produced worldwide were from Fair trade farmers; in 2005, 33,991 tonnes (33,991,000 kg) out of 6,685,000 tonnes (6.685×109 kg) were from Fair trade, an increase from 0.34% to 0.51%

Different Fair trade schemes

No universally accepted definition of ‘fair trade’ exists. There are a large number of Fair trade and ethical labels having different marketing strategies and different standards and criteria, and these have evolved with the major changes in marketing strategies that have taken place over the last twenty years making the sector increasingly complex.

Most Fair trade is sold by those Fair trade organizations that believe it is necessary to market through supermarkets to get sufficient volume of trade to have any real impact on the Third World[2] The Fair trade labeling organizations having most of the market share and who sell through supermarkets refer to a definition developed by FINE, an informal association of four international Fair trade networks (Fairtrade Labelling Organizations International, World Fair Trade Organization (WFTO), Network of European Worldshops and European Fair Trade Association (EFTA). The standards developed by Fairtrade International (Fairtrade Labelling Organization) are the most used.

Fair trade is a certification scheme

The biggest Fair trade certification scheme, used by Fairtrade and some others, notably Fair Trade USA, is run by Fairtrade International (Fairtrade Labelling Organization). Coffee packers in the rich countries pay Fairtrade a fee for the right to use the Fairtrade logo, which gives consumers an assurance that the coffee meets Fairtrade criteria, that it is produced by farmers who are members of a democratically run cooperative, that it is produced without child labour, that there are restrictions on the use of herbicides and pesticides, and that the final exporter is paid a minimum price and a price premium.

The coffee with this certification mark must be produced by farmers and cooperatives that meet these criteria, and be certified by a for-profit inspection organization, FLO-CERT. The fact that a cooperative is certified does not mean that it can sell all its output as Fairtrade certified. The cooperatives can, on average, sell only 37% of their output as Fairtrade certified, at an enhanced price, because of lack of demand, and so they sell the rest at normal world prices.

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