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223. Clarification on NYT reference to CRS

Last week, The New York Times ran a story on the rupture between Fair Trade USA and Fairtrade International and its implications for the Fair Trade movement.  In my post on the story, I noted that the reporter made a confusing reference to our role in the coffee certification process:

“For consumers who pay attention to where their food comes from and how it is produced, the result could be confusion as they try to sort through a proliferation of competing fair trade labels with differing claims.  The logo overload will include a redesigned Fair Trade USA seal; a Fairtrade International seal, which previously did not appear in this country; and labels from smaller programs, like one run by Catholic Relief Services.”

Today, my colleagues from our Fair Trade Program in the United States issued a detailed statement clarifying the uses of the CRS Fair Trade logo and our role in promoting the expansion of Fair Trade in the U.S. market.

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For more on FTUSA’s decision to break away from FLO, its Fair Trade for All vision and the implications for smallholder farmers, click here.

2 Comments

  • Nicholas Babin says:

    Check out these striking graphics by Phil Howard and Dan Jaffee depicting the structure of the Fair Trade industry.

    • Nicholas:

      Thanks for sharing these graphs. They are well done, indeed.

      In addition to being a pleasure to look at, they show pretty efficiently what all of the fighting has been about over the last 10 years. (Or what the genteel academics who authored the work refer to more diplomatically as “a decade of struggles within the fair trade movement over the nature of its relationship to large (often transnational) corporate firms, some of which have contributed to the dramatic growth of fair trade sales.”)

      The second graphic is particularly helpful in this regard, as it shows the dimensions of each company’s commitment to Fair Trade both in terms of total FT volume (breadth) and FT volume as a percentage of total volume (depth). If deep commitment is your thing, then Equal Exchange and Cooperative Coffees and the other importers/roasters with a 100% commitment to FT come off looking good. If your vision of impact is volume-driven, then you notice that GMCR’s 28% commitment to FT in 2010 moved more FT coffee than all the 100% companies combined. Beauty, in other words, is in the eye of the beholder, and depends an awful lot on the lens through which the beholder understands processes of social and economic change/reads these graphs.

      Relentless promotion of both these visions by committed advocates of each explain an awful lot of what the fighting “struggles within the fair trade movement” have been all about.

      Michael

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