Oakland, Calif. (February 19, 2014) – Fair Trade USA, the leading third-party certifier of Fair Trade products in North America, today announces the launch of Fair Trade Certified™ coconut products into the global market. Beginning with coconut waters and oils, Fair Trade USA welcomes the versatile nut into its offerings with the aim of improving the lives of small-scale coconut farmers, and protecting workers in coconut processing facilities.
Although coconut products are booming in popularity, the individuals producing them are not reaping the rewards. There is a significant gap between skyrocketing sales in North America, and poverty-level incomes earned by farmers in key coconut producing economies. In the Philippines, one of the world's leading coconut producers, an estimated 60 percent of small-scale coconut farmers live in poverty.
Some of the most important challenges faced by coconut growers include:
- Extreme poverty: Coconut farmers are among the poorest of the poor in countries like Indonesia and the Philippines, which threatens the sustainability of coconut farming as a livelihood.
- Unfavorable and variable prices: An average single-serving coconut water from a leading brand sells for around $1.50 in the United States, yet farmers receive about $0.11-0.20 per nut. Given that they farm small plots of land, coconut farmers and farm workers average about one dollar a day throughout the year, according to Oxfam.
- Low yields and productivity: Particularly as coconut trees age, their inefficiency makes the cost of maintaining and harvesting coconuts extremely high.
- Mono-crop farming: Coconut is mainly grown as a mono-crop, which fosters an environment of low crop diversity that can be detrimental to the environment and risky for the farmer.
Fair Trade certification aims to address these and other issues, helping coconut farmers develop sustainable livelihoods and become better stewards of the land. One way this happens is through the rigorous Fair Trade standards—covering areas like child and forced labor, safe working conditions, water conservation and proper waste disposal. Another way is through the Fair Trade Community Development Premium. On top of the sale price, farmers earn an additional Premium between $40 and $90 per Mertic Ton for each coconut sold. These funds are invested in much-needed community projects like healthcare, education, agricultural training and business development.
Fair Trade is also a way for companies to build strong, reliable, transparent supply chains that foster long-term relationships with growers. And, it’s an opportunity for consumers to choose high-quality products that also improve lives and protect the environment.
“We are proud to offer Fair Trade Certified coconut products to create new economic opportunities for coconut growers across the globe,” said Nora Pittenger, Fair Trade USA’s Senior Manager for Consumer Packaged Goods. “With demand for coconuts on the rise, Fair Trade USA is empowering consumers and businesses to choose products that not only taste good, but also do good.”
The first Fair Trade Certified coconut products to hit store shelves include: Naked Coconut Water (1 liter), available at Whole Foods Market and Safeway; Nutiva Virgin Coconut Oil (15 and 23 oz. glass), available at Whole Foods Market, Safeway and Sprouts; and La Maison Orphée Coconut Oil in the U.S. and Canada. Soon to launch are Nutiva’s O’Coconut treats at Whole Foods Market, and Coco Libre Protein Coconut Waters.
Fair Trade USA, a nonprofit organization, is the leading third-party certifier of Fair Trade products in North America. Fair Trade USA audits and certifies transactions throughout the supply chain to ensure that farmers and workers earn a better income, work in safe conditions, protect the environment, and earn additional premiums to empower and improve their communities for generations to come. Fair Trade USA also provides farming communities with access to tools, trainings and resources; engages consumers; and helps companies respond to increasing consumer demand for Fair Trade products. Visit FairTradeCertified.org for more information.