Travelling Through Fair Trade Markets – Zoom In on Coffee :: by Inês Lopes
Written by ines September 14th
Photography by Éric St-Pierre (www.ericstpierre.ca)
Éric St-Pierre, Photojournalist
Éric St-Pierre started working as a photojournalist in 1996, when he visited the UCIRI fair trade and organic coffee cooperative in Mexico. The last few years he’s traveled to Tanzania, Costa Rica, Thailand, India, the Dominican Republic, to name just a few, in order to photograph the many faces of fair trade. In 2007, he was chosen as one of “10 fair trade pioneers in Canada” by Transfair Canada, a fair trade certifier. He already has a few expositions and books under his belt, and now he’s preparing a photography book that presents 12 fair trade products.
Coffee travels as well. But does it do so in a responsible fashion hmmm? That depends on whether it follows conventional trade or fair trade’s path. Conventional trade mostly benefits big multinational corporations while fair trade strives to give a bigger piece of the profit pie to the farmers. What are the principals of fair trade? First of all, it prioritizes direct trade, avoiding middlemen. It aims to give workers fair working conditions and salary as well as a long-term commitment towards them. It also encourages democratic cooperative management, education of the public, as well as ecological and sustainable agricultural techniques. Furthermore, revenues linked to fair trade often allow workers to buy agricultural material, to provide healthcare and to bring home a decent salary. These superior revenues also allow children to receive an education.
Coffee: A market of inequalities
It’s worth it to point out that coffee is the most widely traded good in the world, after petrol. It represents a 10 billion dollar market, of which 80% goes to big companies. At the same time, small producers barely get 1000$ in annual revenue.
Fair Trade Coffee
Considering all the environmental and social benefits mentioned above, fair trade coffee is much less bitter to swallow! Whether it be the beans that travel to your local coffee shop or rather you that travels to the producing countries… I encourage you to drink fair trade coffee as often as possible (but not too often, there’s still caffeine in there!)
Next week we will travel again thanks to Éric St-Pierre’s photography; this time we’ll be meeting fair trade bananas in the Dominican Republic.