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How much of the price we pay for Fairtrade products goes back to the producers?

Whatever the price of the product on the shelf, only the FAIRTRADE Mark ensures that the producers have received what is agreed as a fairer price, as well as the Fairtrade Premium to invest in the future of their communities. The Fairtrade price applies at the point where the producer organization sells to the next person in the supply chain (usually an exporter or importer). It is not calculated as a proportion of the final retail price, which is negotiated between the product manufacturer and the retailer.

How many Fairtrade products are there in Canada?

Thousands!  There are currently almost 7000 Fairtrade certified products available for purchase in Canada.  From single products like coffee, sugar or flowers to composite products including ice cream or personal care products, the variety of products available is increasing year over year. Fairtrade products can be found at local and independent stores to national chains including grocery and health food.

What product categories does Fairtrade certify?

Fairtrade Standards exist for the following products: Food products: - Bananas - Cocoa - Coffee - Dried Fruit - Fresh Fruit & Fresh Vegetables - Honey - Juices - Nuts/Oil Seeds/Oil - Quinoa - Rice - Spices - Sugar - Tea - Wine Non-food products: - Cosmetics - Cotton - Cut Flowers - Ornamental Plants - Sports Balls - Gold - Platinum - Silver   Read more about the Standards here: www.fairtrade.net/standards.html

Why are some Fairtrade prices set worldwide and others set for countries or regions?

There are worldwide prices for some products such as nuts, cocoa and juices, but most products have country-specific or regional prices. This is because production costs vary greatly around the world and prices for new products and origins have been set on a case-by-case basis. As the demand for new prices grows, the Fairtrade International Standards Unit is increasingly using regional rather than country-specific prices. This means new prices cover as many farmers and workers as possible and avoid the need for new research into pricing for the same product every time a new producer group is identified in a new country. If production costs vary significantly in a region, a consensus is reached between the farmers/workers and other stakeholders, in order to set a price that is acceptable for the whole region. 

Can buying Fairtrade products help to tackle climate change?

Farmers and workers must meet environmental Standards as part of certification. Producers are required to work to protect the natural environment and make environmental protection a part of farm management. They are also encouraged to minimize the use of energy, especially from non-renewable sources. By choosing Fairtrade, shoppers in Canada are ensuring that farmers and workers receive a Fairtrade Premium to invest in economic, social and environmental products of their own choice. It means they can implement a range of environmental protection programs which contribute to the range of solutions needed to address climate change and ultimately benefit us all.  For example, tea workers in India have invested some of their Fairtrade Premium into replacing the traditional wood-burning heating with a solar-paneled system. Coffee farmers in Costa Rica have used the premium to replant trees to prevent soil erosion and have invested in environmentally friendly ovens, fueled by recycled coffee hulls and the dried shells of macadamia nuts. This means that they no longer need to cut forest trees and can therefore preserve the rainforest and the oxygen they produce. By choosing Fairtrade products, you can help farmers and workers preserve their own environment and allow them to have a positive social benefit in their community. Climate change hits the poorest in developing countries hardest. This includes people whose livelihoods depend on agriculture. Through the Fairtrade Premium, farmers and workers have a little extra to use when harvests fail, or if they need to change to growing a different crop if the climate becomes unsuitable for the way they currently farm.

Is buying Fairtrade products a good idea given concerns on climate change?

There is no doubt that far-reaching global action has to be taken now to deal with climate change. However if the debate around this issue becomes overly concerned with the question of food miles, this could severely damage opportunities for sustainable forms of export agriculture to contribute to the economic and social development of poor farmers and workers. Agriculture can play a critical role in the economic and social development of developing countries. In Africa, agriculture is the continent’s number one source of growth  While an international consensus has been reached on the science of climate change, what is now needed is a balanced debate on the best way forward to reduce the impact of climate change while also supporting developing countries in tackling poverty and promoting sustainable development.

Why isnt the Fairtrade price calculated as a percentage of the retail price

We are often asked how much farmers receive from the retail price of a product sold on Fairtrade terms compared to the same product sold on conventional terms. While this type of comparison may appear to be a simple way to demonstrate the impact of Fairtrade from the consumer’s perspective, it doesn’t actually address the real inequities in typical conventional market arrangements. For producers, the value of Fairtrade is not about the relationship of their selling price to that of the finished product, but to their costs of production and the conventional market price. There are also many complex and variable factors to take into account in comparing different elements of the final price paid by consumers which can be misleading. For example, the price received by a cocoa or coffee producer selling to the conventional market depends on many factors including: -           - fluctuating international market prices - the producer ‘cut’ from a chocolate bar will vary according to the international price of cocoa at the time of sale and the percentage cocoa content of the bar -          - whether the producer is an independent smallholder or a plantation worker -          - whether the smallholder/co-operative/plantation carries out processing or other value-added operations -          - whether a smallholder sells directly to a local buyer or is a member of a co-operative -          - whether the co-operative sells to local traders or to auction, or exports the product on behalf of its members -          local trading conditions – these can vary greatly within a country let alone within different continents e.g. whether the industry has been liberalized or is state-regulated -          - the varying costs of production from country to country. Once the primary product is sold to a certified Fairtrade importer, the costs are similar to those for a conventional product – transport and export costs, shipping and insurance, import licenses and taxes, ripening or processing, packing, warehousing and distribution, marketing and promotion, and retailer overheads. Fairtrade Canada has no control or influence over commercial costs or margins. And because the major costs of the finished product are incurred after the producer has sold the commodity, the return to the producer will inevitably make up a relatively small percentage of the retail price.

Why aren’t handicrafts Fairtrade certified?

Fairtrade certification and pricing were designed for commodity products. It is hard to adapt the Fairtrade model of standardized minimum pricing to crafts and other products made by small-scale artisans, which are unique, made of varied materials and have highly varied production processes and costs.

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