Coffee is a huge global industy. There is a lot of money in the coffee industry, but very little goes to the growers. The price of coffee is set by global commodity markets. The forces at work in these markets are skewed by the interests of a few huge multinational food companies. These forces are completely out of the control of growers. As a result, coffee prices fluctuate from prices that can sustain the lives of growers near the poverty line in good years to below the price of production in others. The lives of these growers are uncertain and marginal.
The notion of fair trade is to by-pass the global coffee distribution chain and define another kind of trade. Trade that provides stability to the growers by offering credit, establishing long term trading relationships, and establishing minimum prices that enable a decent life to growers.
Long term relationships give coffee farmers and their families confidence in their future. With this confidence children can go to school believing that they will have the opportunity to complete their studies. Access to credit enables growers to band together in co-operatives and invest in alternate processing and storage facilities and establish their own export companies that deal directly with importers into North America, Europe and Australia.
The benefits of this method of distribution are just as profound to the end consumer: because the beans from the single origin are not mingled with others from the country, the quality and uniqueness of the single origin are maintained. This means that the growers become rewarded for the quality character of their particular crop and that gives them incentive to continually improve. In this process, growers shift from labourers to connoisseurs and the end consumer here in North America is the ultimate beneficiary. Win-Win
All of the coffee purchased by Birds and Beans is fairly traded. Almost all our coffees are certified by FairTrade USA or the Rainforest Alliance, but even those couple that are not certified are purchased through alternate distribution systems that respect the principles and purchasing prices of Fair Trade.