I have had some intense debate about a particular issue lately. Fair Trade vs. Fairtrade. Some of this debate even involved other people.
The point is this, there is the principle of Fair Trade and the brand Fairtrade. One is a system of certification and licensing which often results in unintended consequences and the other is about fairness and buying on an ethical basis as a principle.
Fairtrade (one word) shows the outside world that you care. It proves it. It does create some quirky results. It guarantees a farmer a higher price than the commodity price of coffee, however he has to manage to get certified. A bureaucratic process that usually involves fees. This prevents many farmers from seizing the opportunity. Fairtrade comes at the expense of free trade. The poor farmer who never got a certificate is eternally prejudiced to lower sales prices and will have poorer workers. The exact opposite of the intended result.
Those of us truly indulging in speciality coffee NEVER buy commodity grade/price coffee and usually ensure the premium goes back to the farmer. This is the principle of Relationship coffee that we adore so much.
Fairtade certification does engage the consumer better however, and perhaps is the way forward if we are to get clients to care.
What should we do?