As more consumers seek out ‘ethical coffee,’ the onus is on companies to measure, manage, and back up claims. When consumers ask, “Does your coffee do more?” will your business answer?
With International Coffee Day approaching, conscious businesses leaders are thinking about their commitments to ethical and equitable sourcing. Taking action on social and environmental issues is non-negotiable as savvy consumers turn their purchases into advocacy, and retailers that communicate their ethics clearly win them over. Fair trade isn’t just a way to meet ESG goals – it’s a proven way to protect workers and ensure ethics in supply chains. Here are the reasons why fair trade should be part of any responsible coffee sourcing strategy:
Working with fair trade to bring certified products to the market, means your business will meet rigorous social criteria, help empower producers, build stronger communities, and protect the environment. Complying with fair trade standards is essential to farmworkers because they are disproportionally excluded from many federal labor protections. Additionally, Fair Trade USA helps businesses realize ESG policies and consistently delivers on six of the United Nation’s SDGs, through the implementation of its Producer Certification and Trade Standard.
Reports of labor abuse and low wages are common within opaque supply chains. Through a partnership with Fair Trade USA, retailers and brands have a direct source for their beans through our established network of coffee producers. To maintain certification, fair trade farms and co-ops are audited against rigorous standards, which include requirements for a guaranteed coffee price, safe workplaces, protection of fundamental human rights, paid sick and maternity leave, fair management of funds, and environmental protections. These clear standards and auditing processes, combined with impact data from the source, help businesses provide the transparency consumers expect.
Managing through crises has become the theme of our times – both for producers and business. Fair trade producers can use their Community Development Funds to provide emergency relief. 77% of fair trade producers tapped into these funds during COVID-19 and 95% implemented four or more health and safety measures. Others used the funds for direct cash payouts to offset losses or funded clinics and remote education initiatives.
Giving workers a vital safety net means they can quickly rebound from or manage through unforeseen disruptions. Fair trade not only protects them, it increases resiliency and future proofs businesses’ supply chains.
Our standards include environmental criteria related to efficient water usage; biodiversity protection; prohibition of GMOs and reduction of harmful pesticides; pest management and safeguarding soil health; and waste disposal – all of which help meet sustainability goals.
Furthermore, when producers are empowered, they are better equipped to care for their land. This is where Community Development Funds come in. Producers can invest the additional premiums they earn through the sale of fair trade goods into projects like sanitation, subsidizing organic fertilizers, training on agricultural practices, and more. Fair trade shares these powerful stories, so you can convey the impact you’re making to your customers.
U.S. consumers recognize that coffee producers have been at the wrong end of the value chain for too long. Today, 63% recognize the Fair Trade Certified label and 1 in 3 feel it is essential to their purchase. Consumers asking, “Does your coffee do more?” is evident in the grocery aisles and virtual carts too. Sales of fair trade goods went up $1 billion in 2019 and findings* show that when a fair trade seal is added to a product, sales increase by 3.3% on average. In a market saturated with certifications, businesses that choose one of the most widely-recognized ethical seals can stand out.
*source: 8451 Kroger study