Grocery insight: What is fair trade and how does it make a difference?

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, October 31, 2012

(BPT) – When buying groceries, shoppers have the potential to impact countless people who work behind the scenes producing the foods and beverages that end up in households across America. Purchasing Fair Trade Certified(TM) products has been on the rise for the last 30 years, but most people still aren’t aware of the impact fair trade has on coffee-growing communities around the world and the difference purchasing Fair Trade Certified coffee can make.

By choosing fair trade products, consumers help to improve the lives of farmers around the world. Fair trade guarantees farmers a fair price for their coffee, which helps to improve the quality of life in farming communities – from better access to education and healthcare, to community development opportunities. Furthermore, by participating in the fair trade system, coffee growers are able to farm in a more sustainable manner, which is better for the environment because it reduces the use of agrochemicals, helps to manage and mitigate the impact of waste water and protects natural vegetation areas, while promoting good farming practices.

Fair trade helps to link farmers directly with coffee roasters, such as Green Mountain Coffee Roasters (GMCR), who purchase high-quality, unroasted, green coffee at fair prices, creating long-term business relationships. Since the start of GMCR’s involvement in fair trade and involvement with Fair Trade USA in 2000, GMCR’s Fair Trade Certified coffee purchases have delivered more than $13 million in community development premium funds to coffee farmers.

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Some people believe Fair Trade Certified foods are more expensive, but if you compare costs, you’ll find that these products are competitively priced. Fair trade organizations work directly with producers, so they can keep products affordable for consumers. In addition, the fair trade model allows coffee farmers to invest in better farming techniques, therefore producing some of the highest quality coffees available.

Coffee companies like Green Mountain Coffee Roasters celebrate through fair trade awareness programs. This year, Green Mountain Coffee(R) launched the “Great Coffee, Good Vibes, Pass It On” campaign to encourage people to learn more about the benefits of fair trade. Musicians Grace Potter and Michael Franti joined Green Mountain Coffee(R) as brand ambassadors to help pass on the “good vibes” through free concerts in New York City and Los Angeles. By visiting Green Mountain Coffee on Facebook (, consumers can learn more about Fair Trade Certified coffee.

Fair Trade Certified coffee is something you can feel good about purchasing – because it means a great cup of coffee for you and a better quality of life for farmers. It’s a simple choice that makes a big difference. Make your dollars count by purchasing fair trade labeled products at your local grocery store.