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About Fair Trade

Fair Trade cotton

What is Fair Trade

The goal of fair trade is to provide disadvantaged producers a chance to "increase their control over their own future, have a fair and just return for their work, continuity of income and decent working and living conditions through sustainable development" (Fair Trade Foundation, 2002)

International trade may seem a remote issue, but when commodity prices fall dramatically it has a catastrophic impact on the lives of millions of small scale producers, forcing many into crippling debt and countless others to lose their land and their homes.

Development agencies recognised the important role that consumers could play to improve the situation for producers. By buying direct from farmers/manufacturers at better prices, helping to strengthen their organisations and marketing their produce directly through their own one world shops and catalogues, the charities offered consumers the opportunity to buy products which were bought on the basis of a fair trade.

Obtaining a fair price for their produce provides farmers / manufacturers with a sustainable livelihood. It gives access to basic human rights, shelter, clean water and education for children.

Who Certifies Fair Trade Products?

Fair Trade products are certified by any one of several members of the Fair Trade Labeling Organizations (FLO) International, with TransFair Canada being the Canadian member. Through the combined efforts of FLO and its members (also called Licensing Initiatives), Fair Trade products are monitored from the farmer who grows the crop until the final product is created to ensure internationally recognized Fair Trade standards were met. Only products bearing a Fair Trade certification mark have been certified by TransFair Canada or another member of FLO.

What Fair Trade products are available?

Presently, the range of Fair Trade products available within the City of Barrie is limited to:

  • Coffee
  • Tea
  • Chocolate
  • Hot chocolate
  • Sugar

Other Fair Trade products (that hopefully will soon be available in Barrie!) include:

  • Bananas
  • Granola bars
  • Mangoes
  • Soccer balls
  • Flowers
  • Clothing
  • Wine
  • Honey

Fair Trade and Local Producers

A frequent concern is potential conflict between local producers and Fair Trade producers in the developing world. Whilst for several products there is no conflict due to required growing conditions (e.g. coffee, bananas and cocoa don't grow well in Canada!), for other products (wine, soccer balls, honey etc.) conflict is a real issue. There is no generic answer to such conflicts as issues such as tariffs, subsidies and environmental impact will vary from product to product. The usual solution is to offer both local and Fair Trade produce and let consumers choose.

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