Mainstreaming Fair Trade Coffee Sociology Essay

The peer-reviewed diary article was written by Laura T. Raynolds, a sociology professor at Colorado State University renowned for being one of the universe ‘s first bookmans of Fair Trade. She has been to a great extent involved in multiple undertakings funded by The Ford Foundation, The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation as a adviser to non-governmental organisations in an attempt to heighten planetary societal justness and environmental sustainability through the pattern of Fair Trade. Overall, the article aims at linking societal duty and free market capitalist economy. It besides suggests that while the Fair Trade motion has come a long manner since it was started back in 1960s, the just trade system is now confronting assorted challenges and to ease the acceptance of the just trade system and make a sustainable environment for carnival traded merchandises, schemes must be developed to raise public consciousness.

To give the reader a general apprehension of the difference between the two chief species of java beans being sold in the universe today in footings of the planting and harvest home procedures that contribute to their varying monetary values, these two species are called: arabica and canephora ( besides known as robusta ) . They account for virtually all java beans presently traded in the universe today. In the early 1990s, Arabica accounted for about three-fourthss of the universe java supply, net incomes by java bring forthing states were some U.S. $ 10-12 billion, and retail gross revenues were about U.S. $ 30 billion. Today, nevertheless, more dearly-won arabica production has declined as robusta production, the lower quality beans used in blends as filler, continues to lift. Despite java retail gross revenues transcending U.S. $ 70 billion today, merely U.S. $ 5.5 billion really goes back to the java bring forthing states ‘ pockets. World ‘s java monetary values averaged around U.S. $ 2.71/lbs in the 1990s, dropped to every bit low as U.S. $ 0.48/lb, the lowest in the past 100 old ages ( O’Brien, 2002 ) . Even presents, highly low monetary values resulted from competition are now doing huge adversity to the java husbandmans, particularly arabica manufacturers, who are sing increasing troubles to prolong the more labour-intensive cultivation and harvest home that arabica trees require.

At the bosom of this java crisis lied another issue that exacerbates the current state of affairs: the instability between supply and demand for java. Entire production in coffee twelvemonth 2001-2002 is estimated at around 113 million bags ( 60-kg bags ) while universe ingestion is merely over 106 million bags. Furthermore, java production has been steadily lifting at an one-year rate of 3.6 % , while demand has been increasing by merely 1.5 % due to rapid enlargement of new plantations in Vietnam and Brazil ( Gressler, 2002 ) . In other words, the addition in production and an surplus in java supply are doing java monetary values to travel down even more capable to the basic jurisprudence of supply and demand. To do the consumers aware of this phenomenon, dynamic attempts are being made by the Global Exchange and Oxfam to advance Fair Trade Certification.

The Fair Trade motion helped husbandmans set up co-ops, monitor their patterns and verify that java bearing a Fair Trade label was so produced and sold under Fair Trade conditions. Max Havelaar Netherlands, founded in 1988, was foremost to present a Fair Trade label. During the 1990s similar enterprises spread throughout Europe and to Canada, the United States and Japan. Since 1997, Fair Trade enterprises have been united under the umbrella of the Fairtrade Labeling Organization ( FLO ) International, an organisation working to standardise the enfranchisement procedure for a broad scope of merchandises ( Lyon, 2003 ) .

The internationally recognized standards for Fair Trade java are set away as follows ( Bates, 1997 ) : Fair Trade java must be purchased straight from little husbandmans organized into democratically managed co-ops. When market monetary values are low, these co-ops must vouch a floor monetary value at $ 1.26/lb or $ 0.05/lb USD above the “C” monetary value, whichever is higher, giving a java husbandman a net net income of about $ 1.10/lb, with the remainder traveling toward transit fees and co-op rank dues. Coffee beans importers are obligated to offer husbandmans recognition and advance long-run relationships between them and the husbandman co-op for their common benefits.

Carnival Traders have developed a figure of schemes to popularise their merchandises. First of all, they focus their selling attempts and instruction runs on selling planetary societal duty instead than on their merchandises to three mark markets: single consumers, concerns such as Starbucks and Peet ‘s Coffee, and institutional purchasers such as universities and authorities offices. These Fair Traders so undertake the java crisis at its beginning: both supply and demand.

On the supply side, accent is given to quality betterment, variegation, and publicity monitoring. In February 2002, the International Coffee Organization ( ICO ) introduced a new planetary Coffee Quality-Improvement Program ( CQP ) so as to heighten sustainability of the java economic system by increasing ingestion, adding value and supplying consumer satisfaction by puting scaling criterions and steps to be taken in instances of non-compliance ( Giovannucci, 2002 ) . Actions are taken to advance variegation in husbandmans ‘ over-dependency on java such as promoting the planting of extra or alternate merchandises and/or greater java merchandise cleavage. The ICO is besides supervising the production to guarantee institutional givers are informed of the java balance and end these undertakings if they are deemed likely to take to instabilities.

On the demand side, the ICO marks consumers with a sensitivity toward socially responsible merchandises and seeks to develop distribution channels to advance their entree to reasonably traded merchandises and chase awaying biass against the quality of these merchandises every bit good as the dependability of their supply through media attending and consumer instruction in new markets such as China and Russia so as to increase ingestion of java chiefly in partnership with the private sector and in bring forthing states. In add-on, the World Trade Organization is besides seeking to extinguish duties and other barriers that may halter the trading of java and its agricultural merchandises.

It was evidenced in the article by sufficient informations that public consciousness and buying of Fair Trade certified merchandises are much more extended in European states than in the United States and Canada. Several analyses performed by the writer have determined that this phenomenon is attributable to how knowing about Fair Trade merchandises the consumers are matching to their purchase determinations. They besides indicate that younger, higher income Europeans are statistically more likely to hold heard of or purchase Fair Trade certified merchandises, irrespective of their political propensities. In add-on to single features, the odds of cognizing about Fair Trade addition with the clip that a labeling organisation has existed in their state of abode. Besides concentrating on assisting husbandmans produce java that will be of a quality that is desirable in the forte market, late Carnival Traders have besides initiated attempts to educate agriculturists and possible purchasers on each others ‘ demands and restraints, so that production will non drastically exceed demand doing monetary values to worsen. For illustration, Fair Trade groups have arranged java industry representatives ‘ visits to farmer co-ops and frailty versa.

Finally, Fair Traders must non merely educate planetary consumers about the issues environing sustainable java, but besides surrogate consumer reactivity that help Fair Trade manufacturers respond to consumer penchants. While Fair Trade does confirm non-economic values of co-operation and solidarity, in the terminal the capitalist jussive moods of competition among java concerns and their profit-maximization focal point are non a affair of pick, but a necessity for all economic endeavors that wish to last within the planetary capitalist market. To travel beyond the web ‘s symbolic challenge toward genuinely interrupting the fetichism of trade goods would finally necessitate a undertaking aimed non merely at facing unethical market behaviour, but the societal dealingss that underlie them. Despite few unfavorable judgments offered in the article to do its statement more compelling, the writers ‘ usage of Fair Trade java is a sophisticated, historically informed, and ethically critical add-on to the literature, which, nevertheless, lacks comparable plants in footings of comprehensiveness and theoretical range. In the terminal, the writer did non offer matter-of-fact solutions as to how we can alter the overall state of affairs and travel towards greater realisation of planetary societal justness, those who understand the analyses will no longer be able simply to travel along with the popular construct of Fair Trade and will oppugn its seemingly benign pattern.


Bates, R.H. ( 1997 ) Open-Economy Politicss: The Political Economy of the World Coffee Trade ( Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press ) .

Giovannucci, D. & A ; Freek, J.K. ( 2003 ) The State of Sustainable Coffee: A Study of Twelve Major Markets ( conducted for the International Coffee Organization, United Nations Conference on Trade and Development and International Institute for Sustainable Development )

Gressler, C. & A ; Tickell, S. ( 2002 ) Mugged: Poverty in Your Coffee Cup, Oxfam International, & lt ; hypertext transfer protocol: // & gt ;

Lyon, S. ( 2003 ) Evaluation of the Actual and Potential Benefits for the Alleviation of Poverty through the Participation in Fair Trade Networks: Guatemalan Case Study, Fair Trade Research Group, & lt ; hypertext transfer protocol: // & gt ;


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