October is Fair Trade month and World Fair Trade day is in May! We’re celebrating by offering a sale on all of our Equal Exchange products! Equal Exchange lives and breathes fair trade through their company cooperative, purchasing strategy, and mission. We’re proud to be a supporter of their great work!
What is Fair Trade?
Fair Trade is a set of business practices adapted by the producers and buyers of agricultural commodities, or simply, the process of giving a fair exchange for the product you are receiving.
More specifically, fair trade tries to achieve these goals:
- Raising and stabilizing the incomes of small-scale farmers, farm workers, and artisans
- More equitably distributing the economic gains, opportunities and risks associated with the production and sale of these goods
- Increasing the organizational and commercial capacities of producer groups
- Supporting democratically owned and controlled producer organizations
- Promoting labor rights and the right of workers to organize
- Promoting safe and sustainable farming methods and working conditions
- Connecting consumers and producers
- Increasing consumer awareness and engagement with issues affecting producers
About Equal Exchange:
Equal Exchange was founded in 1986 to support small farmers by connecting consumers and producers through information, education, and exchange of products in marketplace.
Today, Equal Exchange is an organic fair trade importer and distributor that supports a network of small cooperative farms around the world. You are most likely familiar with their coffee, chocolate, teas and bananas but they are constantly expanding their line of fairly traded foods. Products such as olive oil, cashews, mangoes and raisins are some of the newest additions to the Equal Exchange brand.
Equal Exchange's Agricultural Cooperatives:
We met with David Contreras, a representative of two cooperatives from Peru. Two examples of cooperatives that work directly with Equal Exchange are ACOPAGRO, and Oro Verde (Green Gold). Both of these co-ops are certified organic and sell their products using fair trade standards. The stories of how these co-ops came about are captivating and demonstrate why fair trade is so important.
The area of Peru where these two co-ops were formed had a very different landscape before their creation. David and Hildebrando described their communities as being overrun with cocaine growers, smugglers, and gangs. Their communities were impoverished, underdeveloped, and struggling. Each of these cooperatives have made large strides in turning their communities around.
In 1997, ACOPAGRO was established with the help of the United Nations to promote cacao (chocolate bean) cultivation and help local farmers come together as a collective. Since their creation, they’ve grown to 2,100 producers. Their vision is to improve cacao yields and productivity, diversify their crops, and improve quality of life for their workers.
David explained that ACOPAGRO’s farmers own their own land, produce their own crops, and deliver them to the cooperative’s facilities where the cacao is combined and made ready for sale. The co-op’s efforts have set the standard for cacao in their area, allowing them to demand a fair price. Their monetary successes have allowed them to set up savings accounts and put money towards education and health care for the farmers and their families.
The revival story at Hildebrando’s Oro Verde is similar. Oro Verde is made up of two groups of people who came together to successfully farm the land and make a living. The area where Oro Verde is located was poverty stricken, a major drug trafficking zone, and had severe deforestation, hunger, and poor nutrition problems.
Oro Verde was founded in 1999 with the goal to revitalize their landscape and community with a specific focus on improving the lives of their farmers. By creating a much needed path to local and global marketplaces, the co-op’s collective selling power has enabled them to use capital as a means to improve their living conditions.
Oro Verde now has 1,050 members and sells to major global markets like the U.S., Europe, and Canada. As they grow they continue to put focus on maintaining ancestral culture and building community by improving member housing, offering education, and improving farming techniques and productivity.
In addition to their community focus, in an effort to build their natural resources, they’ve taught farmers about composting and using naturally derived fertilizers as a way to feed their cacao and coffee trees.
Why is Fair Trade Important?
These two stories are examples of how fair trade can help small farmers and co-ops thrive. Fair trade creates a standard for purchasing and producing, allowing small farmers to reach global markets as a means to improve their livelihoods and local communities.
Equal Exchange is a leader in the fair trade industry; their support of small farmers and co-ops around the world is monumental. Through their focus on fair trade, they’re helping to build a healthy food system and a healthy global work force.
Here are some of Equal Exchange's fair trade practices:
- Provides pre-harvest financial support up to 50% of the purchase
- Offers an international marketplace for farmers’ products to be sold
- Purchases crops at a premium and sells them in the local organic markets
- Sets up direct supply channels with farms to cut out middlemen and increase direct revenues to the co-op
- Sets a high standard for fair trade practices
- Only works with co-ops to promote the benefits of collective farming (health care, selling power, community improvements)
We're honored to work with Equal Exchange to get quality fair trade products to your doorsteps!
How Can You Get Involved In world Fair Trade day?
- Learn more about fair trade through Equal Exchange!
- Purchase some of our rad fair trade add-on items: coffee, chocolate, teas.
- Check out the Fair Trade Month website.