Business Aspects

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Business news, practical advice, tools, resources and encouragement to help those involved in Fair Trade business succeed.

NY Times: U.S. Gov Apparel Procurement Follows Pattern of Legal Violations & Harsh Labor Conditions


A major New York Times front-page investigative story published this week exposes a pattern of legal violations and harsh working conditions at US government apparel suppliers in developing countries. It also shows that the US government is relying on Walmart audits that are hiding life-threatening hazards in supplier factories. Labor rights advocates and Fair Trade systems offer positive alternatives to such indignities.

More at NY Times article

Small Producer Symbol Expands & Diversifies Program


The Small Producer Symbol (SPP), a producer-led and owned Fair Trade certification system based in Latin America focusing on small producers, has in recent months expanded into more countries, coops and product categories. SPP announced its first organization registration in Germany, which will enable consumers there to become aware of the innovative certification. So far, there are 52 organizations certified by the SPP.

Two coffee producers organizations of Bolivia have recently joined SPP, “La Montaña Verde” and “Antofagasta”. Plus, a fruit producing organization from Ecuador, Urocal, became a new member. Furthermore, SPP celebrates its first  small artisans’ organization, OEPAIC, also from Bolivia.

SPP held its annual conference in Peru, November 7 and 8 , with about a hundred people, most of them small producers, from several countries of Latin America, North America and Europe.

More at SPP post

“Fair Tuesday” Initiative Inspires Ethical Holiday Shopping


#FairTuesday is an ethical shopping initiative created in response to Black Friday and Cyber Monday. The goal of #FairTuesday is to inspire conscious consumerism. “Fair Tuesday” features Fair Trade and eco-friendly brands, and is inviting other businesses to take a step towards sustainability.

Whether you are an individual, organization, or a member of the press, you can join the #FairTuesday movement in two simple ways: by buying one fair trade item on Tuesday, December 3rd and by helping us spread the word about the movement on social media using hashtag #FairTuesday. If you represent a non-fair-trade business, tell us what you are doing to make your practices more green and fair.

More at Fair Tuesday

Fairtrade International Launches to Consumers in India


Fairtrade India launched officially this week in India, adding to the more than 20 countries with Fairtrade International branches advancing marketing and labeling of Fairtrade. The organization will focus on “promoting Indian-produced Fairtrade products directly to the growing Indian market to further benefit Fairtrade farmers and workers.” Fairtrade started working with Indian producers almost 19 years ago, helping them gain access to European markets on better terms of trade. The initial basket of Fairtrade products from India included tea, spices, coffee, cotton and nuts.

There are now 121,400 workers and farmers working with Fairtrade in India, with 72 Fairtrade certified producer organizations, exporting Fairtrade certified products around the world. In 2012, an additional 2.4 million Euros (approx . Rs. 19.4 crores) was received by Indian farmers and workers as Fairtrade Premium above what they would otherwise have received in the market.

More at Fairtrade International post

First Fair Trade Shoe Factory Produces Footwear Available in N. America


The first-ever Fair Trade certification for a shoe factory was announced recently. A Canadian company, Oliberté, imports the shoes from a factory in Ethiopia that is certified by Fair Trade USA.

Oliberté projects sales in 2013 will be about $1.2 million and are expected to grow to $2 million next year. As a Fair Trade buyer, Oliberté will be required to start contributing 5% of its purchases to a community fund for employees at the factory. That could work out to about $2,500 in October alone, when Oliberté is scheduled to ship 2,300 pairs of shoes to retailers such as Town Shoes in Canada.

More at Toronto Star post

38 Million Retirees Join Workers and Consumers to Say “No” to TPP Terms that Would Make Medicine More Expensive


The chorus of critics of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) – a sweeping U.S. pact under negotiation with 11 Pacific Rim countries – keeps expanding.

This week, the largest U.S. nonprofit, nonpartisan group – the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), representing 38 million members – joined the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), Consumers Union and other U.S. health and consumer advocacy groups in sending a letter to President Obama to express “deep concern” that TPP rules will thwart efforts to control escalating healthcare costs.

More at Public Citizen post

“Fair for Life” Certification Now Lists All Available Products on Website


Institute for Marketecology (IMO) “Fair for Life” certification program now publicly lists all its available certified products, and which organizations trade them. There are more than 500 certified products in food, body care and other categories.

Also on the website, visitors can still see the evaluation score in 5 main criteria for each trading organization. These evaluation results are the only publicly available ones from any certifiers in Fair Trade.

More at “Fair for Life” product list

FTF Publishes 2013 Holiday Guide


The Fair Trade Federation (FTF) has published its 2013 Holiday Shopping Guide, featuring gift, party, and decor recommendations from over 50 Fair Trade Federation members. All of the gifts in the guide are sold by members of the Fair Trade Federation- fully fair trade businesses dedicated to the people who make our products.

See the 2013 Holiday Guide

Fair Trade Minimum Price for Coffee Again Benefiting Farmers


One of the key benefits of Fair Trade is to guarantee producers a minimum floor price when global commodity prices drop. In some years, when commodity prices are high, this benefit is more psychological rather than material. This year for coffee farmers, the benefit is again material and very important.

The small scale farmers that make up the majority of global coffee production remember all too well the calamity of 2001 when prices plummeted to 45 cents a pound, throwing hundreds of thousands of farmers and landless workers into poverty or destitution.

More recently, in May 2011, the price of Arabica coffee on the New York futures market hit a 34-year high of almost US$3.09 per pound. But, as if to justify its volatile reputation, the coffee price has plummeted in 2013 to less than US$1.10 per pound – nearly 65 percent off the 2011 high (see the latest market price here).

The price collapse this year is particularly unwelcome for farmers in Central America, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru where leaf rust, a fungal disease that destroys coffee trees also known as La Roya, has already wiped out up to 30-40 percent of the crop, according to the International Coffee Organization (ICO).

Fairtrade certified cooperatives can count on at least the Fairtrade Minimum Price of US$1.40 per pound for washed Arabica coffee sold on Fairtrade terms (30 cents more if organic), plus an extra 20 cents per pound Fairtrade Premium to invest as they see fit, 5 cents of which is dedicated to productivity and quality investments.

More at Fairtrade International post

Samoa Becomes Newest Country with Fairtrade Producers


A new country has been added to the map of farmers and workers participating in Fairtrade International’s system. The Savai’i Coconut Farmers Association on the island of Savai’i is a young organization with a small membership,  and just became certified in early September.

The association aims to contribute to the recovery of the coconut cream industry in Samoa, an important contributor to the local economy that has declined by 50 percent in the last 10 years. Krissy Co, a local buyer, along with Nice Blocks, a New Zealand ice cream company, and Fairtrade Australia/New Zealand supported the farmers as they worked to become certified.

More at Fairtrade International post