Every month Fairtrade Canada puts the spotlight on one or more Fairtrade certified product categories. This September we encourage all Canadians to look for the FAIRTRADE MARK when buying coffee and tea. Making the ethical choice for your daily caffeine fix can make a significant difference in the lives of farmers and workers in countries around the world. 

Fairtrade certified coffee and tea can be found in most major grocery stores and specialty retailers. Many neighbourhood cafés serve Fairtrade as well, but if your favourite spot doesn’t, make sure to tell them what Fairtrade means to you, and ask them to ensure a fair deal for the farmers and workers at the source of their products.

About Fairtrade Coffee

Fairtrade certified coffee has been available in Canada for almost 20 years. Coffee farmers make up 56% of all Fairtrade farmers; 812,500 small scale farmers in thirty countries are represented by 445 small producer organizations. Three-quarters of all Fairtrade coffee comes from Latin America and the Caribbean.

Volatile prices continue to challenge all coffee producers. The Fairtrade Minimum Price for coffee helps protect farmers from this instability. Fairtrade International is currently completing a review of the cost of sustainable production to ensure that Fairtrade farmers continue to earn a reasonable living for the work they do.

The effects of climate change and a coffee rust outbreak also pose major challenges for farmers. Fairtrade International has several projects underway to ameliorate these. Watch this short YouTube video to learn more about coffee and climate change.

While coffee is the dominant product in the Fairtrade world, there is still significant room for growth. While farmers cultivate more than 500,000 certified metric tonnes, only 28% is sold on Fairtrade Terms.

In 2014, Fairtrade coffee farmers received an estimated $70million in Premiums, almost half of which was invested in improving infrastructure, facilities and processes to improve yield and quality.

About Fairtrade Tea

Fairtrade tea is produced by more than 360,000 farmers and plantation workers in twelve countries, represented by 100 producer organizations. More than half of these farmers and workers are in Kenya. In African countries farmers cultivate tiny plots of land for tea – 0.3 hectares on average.

Globally, Fairtrade tea sales have increased six-fold since 2004, reaching 12,200 tonnes in 2013-14. However, that amount is a relatively small percentage of certified tea produced. So, as with coffee, there is plenty of capacity available to grow the Fairtrade tea market in Canada and other developed markets, which would result in deeper impact for farmers and workers.

Price volatility is also an issue for tea producers - good crops in some countries significantly impact prices in other countries. Again, the Fairtrade Minimum Price helps to protect against this. Fairtrade International also continues to work to achieve more benefits for workers on plantations – not just wages, but areas such as housing quality, work standards and gender equality.

Tea farmers and workers received an estimated $6.6million in Premium in 2014. Farmers invested 37% in health and  education programs, and 38% in Producer Organization improvements such as facilities, infrastructure and services to farmers. On estates, 46% was spent on support services for workers, including housing, education and healthcare.

Visit our tea page to watch Fairtrade Matters, a landmark film that offers a poignant glimpse into the lives of just two of the farmers and workers at the heart of Fairtrade.