It’s October. That means the leaves are falling from the trees, kids are getting ready for Halloween, and… it’s Fair Trade Month! As much as we love a change of season and dressing up, it’s the celebration of Fair Trade that gets us most excited around here.
Fair Trade is a “Global movement made up of a diverse network of pro-ducers, companies, shoppers, advocates, and organizations putting peo-ple and planet first. Based on the simple idea that the products we buy and sell are connected to the livelihoods of others, fair trade is an easy way for shoppers to make a conscious choice for a better world.1”
We often lack insight into how the products we buy are sourced. Fair Trade gives us all the reassurance that we are supporting an ethical and sustainable supply chain.
Kashi has been buying fair trade cocoa since 2015, and you can find Fair Trade Certified™ ingredients in 18 of our products now. Although we buy cocoa from other sources as well, we are adding fair trade cocoa to new products where we can (we added another four in 2018.) Your support of these has allowed us as a company to invest nearly $184,000 back into the local communities!
To shine a light on Fair Trade this month, we checked in with Gesina Beckert, Senior Manager CPG at Fair Trade USA to talk a little more about how fair trade works and why it’s so important.
(Conan Kouassi — producer in the Oumé section of Côte d’Ivoire from the COOPATESA co-coa cooperative. Photo courtesy Fair Trade USA)
WHY IS FAIR TRADE SO IMPORTANT AT A COMMUNITY LEVEL?
More than one billion farmers live in poverty. They are often the most vulner-able members of the community and are dependent on the commodity price of their crop. Fair trade creates market access for these producers, builds structures and supports the organization that builds stronger farming com-munities, and allows fair trade producers to receive additional funds to invest in their futures. When you choose a product with Fair Trade Certified ingredi-ents, you can be sure that the people behind it worked in safe, healthy con-ditions and earned additional money to uplift their communities. It’s an easy way to have a direct, positive impact on global communities.
In fact, a 2017 NCBI article goes as far as to state, “We humans do not need meat. In fact, we are healthier without it, or at least with less of it in our diets. The Adventist Health Studies provide solid evidence that vegan, vegetarian, and low-meat diets are associated with statistically significant increases in quality of life…”
WHY IS FAIR TRADE USA INCREASING THE MINIMUM PRICE FOR COCOA SO MUCH RIGHT NOW?
After research revealed that 58% of cocoa farmers in the Ivory Coast live in extreme poverty, Fair Trade USA is increasing the minimum price and premi-um for cocoa by 20% in October 2019. That means that one metric ton of Fair Trade Certified conventional (the price is a bit higher for organic) cocoa will be sold at a minimum of $2,400 and the premium, regardless of the market price, will be $240 per metric ton. This is a necessary step for cocoa farmers after the market price dropped by more than 30% in 2016/17 and left many farmers in extreme poverty. While this is a significant increase, Kashi is continuing to support fair trade producers through this change. It is a brand that holds true to its values.
(Photo courtesy Fair Trade USA)
WHEN A KASHI CONSUMER BUYS ONE OF OUR PRODUCTS MADE WITH FAIR TRADE INGREDIENTS, WHAT IS THEIR IMPACT?
Through people's purchases of Kashi products that contain Fair Trade Certi-fied cocoa, sugar, and vanilla, over $184,000 has been generated in Com-munity Development Funds for fair trade producers. In West Africa, these Community Development Funds have been used to build water wells, schools and provided an additional income for producers to pay for school fees, food and work equipment. For poverty stricken farmers and workers, these changes are meaningful and increase community and individual well-being.
WHAT DOES THE FUTURE LOOK LIKE FOR FAIR TRADE?
It’s a very exciting time to be with Fair Trade USA now. Consumers these days are demanding that brands be a force for good, and fair trade is grateful to be a part of that movement. Fair Trade USA has built this model for the last 20 years and is ready to scale it up in the coming years. Since inception, we have branched out from traditional commodities like coffee and cocoa to also certify apparel factories, fisheries and even produce farms in the United States. In the future, we hope to continue expanding to help create a more equitable trading system that benefits all. Please join us in this revolution!