Oh what a month...

10/19/2007 - 9:35 AM
Did you know that October is Fair Trade Month? While many dedicated Fair Trade supporters and advocates would say that “every month is Fair Trade month”, this month is all about cutting through the clutter and getting deeper engagement from consumers, partners, and industry.

Some of our partners have chosen to make this month their chance to launch new initiatives in support of the Fair Trade system and the farmers it serves. Tully’s announced a chain wide commitment to Fair Trade, and Sam’s Club replaced an existing canned coffee item in their stores with a private label 100% Fair Trade offering. Several retailers are bringing in and promoting Fair Trade Certified flowers, chocolate, and other items – often combining items from a number of Fair Trade suppliers into a single Fair Trade event.

Other licensees are visibly promoting their existing Fair Trade Certified products and the overall Fair Trade message. This list includes some of our bigger licensees such as Starbucks and Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, as well as some of our smaller and most mission focused licensees like Pura Vida.

The NGO community is lending huge support, in the form of farmer/coop member tours, community events, and tons of creativity. From an art walk in Amherst, to a rock concert in Houston to a Fair Trade Festival in L.A., supporters are getting the word out about how Fair Trade is making a difference for farmers and their families.

We’re working the press side in conjunction with our partners as well. Fair Trade has received exciting pickups including a segment on the Martha Stewart show with Bill Clinton discussing Fair Trade Certified coffee with Martha, a full page in Real Simple magazine, and a front page business story in the New York Times.

As consumers, we also have the ability to deepen our engagement and support –not just as buyers, but as advocates.

Two personal examples: The family-owned café in my small town (CiCi Café) buys from a Fair Trade licensee called McLaughlin Coffee, but for some reason did not pour Fair Trade. I finally asked the daughter of the owner (who was working the counter) if they would consider switching out one of their blends in favor of a Fair Trade offering for Fair Trade Month. The next week, it was both in the airpot and on the shelf! Hundreds of new people in my home town now support Fair Trade farmers through their purchases at the cafe. I’ll be writing the owner a thank you note! I also asked my local Peet’s why they weren’t pouring their Fair Trade blend, and the next day, there it was.

So the next time you don’t see a Fair Trade option this month where there should be one, whether at work, in your grocery store, or in a restaurant, go ahead and ask. You’ll be helping make every month Fair Trade month.
10/19/2007 - 9:35 AM
10/19/2007 - 9:35 AM