Looking back on 2007

01/03/2008 - 4:24 PM
As we leap into 2008, I thought it worthwhile to take one last look back at 2007, a year of amazing progress for the Fair Trade movement in the United States. While TransFair is most often thought of as a certifier of Fair Trade products, a large part of our focus is also on growing the market, raising awareness, and building bridges between farmer groups and industry. Here are a few of the highlights from the year that was:

In January we welcomed Brattleboro, Vermont as a Fair Trade Town and toured Fair Trade communities in Nicaragua with several retail and industry partners.

In February we hosted members of our Coffee Producer Advisory Council in Miami to review our strategic plan, brainstorm on market building ideas and discuss capacity building initiatives. We also traveled to the Eastern Africa Coffee Association Conference in Ethiopia to meet with African groups on similar issues. Our revised composite products (ingredients) policy was finished and published, leading to a new "ingredients" label and Fair Trade Certified cocoa in cosmetics, Fair Trade Certified sugar in dried fruit, and some delicious new Ben & Jerry's Fair Trade offerings.

In March we attended the National Coffee Association annual meeting, and met with some of the larger roasters and café chains to discuss the benefits of expanding their Fair Trade commitments. We also made two important announcements:
-A comprehensive partnership to bring more Fair Trade products into Whole Foods via their Whole Trade program, and
-An increase in the Fair Trade premium on coffee which is worth an estimated $5MM/year in additional funds to Fair Trade coffee farmers.

In April, Self Magazine listed FTC as one of the most trusted labels, and Al Roker learned all about Fair Trade coffee from Phil Lempert on The Today Show.

May brought World Fair Trade Day, which we helped promote along with many other Fair Trade partners. We also assisted over a hundred coffee cooperative representatives find new markets and make connections at the Specialty Coffee Association of America annual trade show in Long Beach, through booth participation and a producer's forum.

Google Earth launched a new layer in June that allows web surfers to navigate the globe and discover Fair Trade Certified farms in Latin America, Africa, and Asia.

In July, we hosted a number of licensees including Alter Eco, Café Bom Dia, Celestial Seasonings, Choice Organic Teas, Lara Bar, and Wholesome Sweeteners at the Fancy Foods show in New York City. Our showcase included over 300 products representing 50 Fair Trade brand partners.

August brought our third Coffee Producer Advisory Council meeting in Colombia, which focused on minimum pricing, cost of sustainable production and market dynamics. We also toured farms in Nicaragua with our friends from the United Students For Fair Trade to learn more about how Fair Trade is working on the ground.

We were lucky to have the governor of Aceh pay a visit to the Bay Area in September. He visited with several of our licensees before heading over to the World Affairs Council for a speech on economic development in Indonesia. We also welcomed two very exciting new retail partners, Tully’s and The Hard Rock Cafe, who will be pouring Fair Trade Certified Coffee in their chains.

October – as always – was Fair Trade Month. Not only did we generate over 50 Million media impressions in outlets from The New York Times to The Martha Stewart Show, we also had terrific support from retailers, our NGO friends (including Oxfam, The Fair Trade Resource Network, Fair Trade Federation, Catholic Relief Services, and Global Exchange), licensees, and many others. We learned that all of this promotion has impact: consumer awareness of Fair Trade increased to over 25% of US consumers. Finally, we won a three year $1.9 MM grant uniting the U.S. government, Wal-Mart, Café Bom Dia, and TransFair in a public-private agreement to support Brazilian farmers producing Fair Trade Certified coffee and cooperatives with technical training and infrastructure investment.

In November, Amherst joined the list of Fair Trade towns. Fair Trade flowers began appearing on retail shelves and have been met with great enthusiasm from growers, importers, retailers and consumers. (You can even order them online.)

December brought a coffee price adjustment, reflecting Fair Trade's deep commitment to fair prices and sustainable livelihoods for family farmers. The Fair Trade price makes a substantial difference in the lives of farmers by ensuring greater price stability and a sustainable income. The adjustment will benefit more than 250 producer organizations in countries throughout Asia, Africa and Latin America, representing almost 1 million small farmers and their families.

Finally, in 2007 TransFair passed the $100 Million dollar mark in additional farmer revenue! Beyond the additional farmer income, Fair Trade continues to support sustainable agricultural practices, greater empowerment, and better communities for farmers and farm workers around the world.

We are thrilled with the growing momentum for Fair Trade that all of us who support or work in Fair Trade can be proud of.
01/03/2008 - 4:24 PM
01/03/2008 - 4:24 PM