For Fair Trade October, Every Purchase Matters

In 1998, imports of Fair Trade Certified coffee into the U.S. measured 76,059 pounds. Last year, that number came in at a whopping 109,795,363 pounds, meaning two things: the coffee consumption habits of Americans show no sign of slowing down, and awareness of responsible coffee sourcing practices is on the rise.

In 2009 alone, consumer purchases of fair trade products generated more than $14 million for community development programs, provided to the more than 1.2 million farming families in the Fair Trade network, according to Fair Trade USA. Photo: TransFair USA

So, how is a bag of Fair Trade Certified coffee different from any other bag of coffee? Fair Trade Certified products have met strict economic, social and environmental criteria in both their production and trade.

From fair labor conditions for agricultural workers to environmentally sustainable farming methods, that bag of coffee traveled through a global supply chain of rigorous standards.

Oct. 1 marks the beginning of Fair Trade Month, dedicated to heightening awareness and education surrounding fair trade practices and the importance of purchasing agricultural products from responsible sources.

The seventh annual campaign is themed “Every Purchase Matters,” highlighting the power that each consumer has with his or her purchase.

Nearly 5.5. million pounds of Fair Trade Certified tea have been sold in U.S. markets to date, 80 percent of which is also certified organic, according to Fair Trade USA. Photo: TransFair USA

“Once limited to coffee, the U.S. consumers can now choose from more than 6,000 Fair Trade Certified products that span cosmetics, chocolate, spices, produce, grains, flowers, wine, spirits and even fashion,” said Paul Rice, president and CEO of Fair Trade USA. “The Fair Trade Certified label empowers consumers to make every purchase matter.”

Fair Trade USA (formerly TransFair USA) is the leading third-party certifier of Fair Trade products in the U.S.

The nonprofit audits and certifies transactions between U.S. companies and their international suppliers, guaranteeing producers of the products were paid fair prices and wages, work in safe conditions, use environmentally sustainable farming methods and receive community development funds.

From speaking events to wine tastings, the organization hopes to register 200 events in honor of Fair Trade Month. To register your event with Fair Trade USA and download an event toolkit, tell your story or find an event near you, visit Fair Trade Month.

Check out Earth911’s Facebook and Twitter pages this week as we give away three gift bags full of fair trade goodies from tea to T-shirt, compliments of our friends at Fair Trade USA!

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  1. This is really a major increase in coffee consumption having in mind that 2009 was a slow consumers’ year due to economic reasons. Is there any channel data on who the largest importers are?
    Is it reasonable to expect that the coffee-shop chains are the culprits or is it and even spread across all food service sectors?

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