While there is no requirement to be certified, fair trade coffee that is certified ensures that the coffee is actually traded between the two parties and not just a marketing ploy. The idea is that the farmer will receive a higher price for his coffee, the producer will pay less for their coffee (because there's no middleman getting an additional slice of the pie) and the consumer will benefit in the end. Following are some of the goals of fair trade coffee: Fair price: Fair trade coffee farmers get a higher price, helping them enjoy a higher of standard of living while improving their community as well through community development programs made possible by a bigger piece of the pie. Environmental sustainability: Fair trade coffee growers are encouraged to use environmentally friendly products on the land and whenever possible, use natural control methods to improve soil quality, reduce erosion and control pests. Fair labor conditions: Child labor is prohibited and workers are encouraged to work in safe conditions for a fair wage. Fair trade coffee farmers and workers work together to decide how to invest any revenues from their fair trade efforts. This can include scholarship programs, healthcare services and increased training. One of the key components of the fair trade coffee initiative is to help farmers deal with market disruptions caused by economic and price fluctuations. In the past, coffee growers would rely on the middlemen for bridge loans. With fair trade coffee, the importers and roasters are encouraged to provide support through long-term trade relationships between the grower and the producer.
While the fair trade coffee movement began just a few years ago, fair trade coffee is rapidly catching on. Fair trade is based on the belief that family farmers are being taken advantage of in third world countries and aren't getting a fair price for their crops. Because coffee is grown in remote regions, the growers don't have easy access to the market, it's rumored that they are selling their premium beans to the middlemen for pennies on the dollar. Not being able to make ends meet, they end up going further into debt at the hands of the coffee traders, who are more than willing to misrepresent the market prices and arrange high interest loans that eventually force the grower off his land. It is a vicious circle that fair trade coffee is trying to stop through its grass roots efforts.