Fair Trade USA: Now the enemy from within?
The battle for fair trade rages on
A few month ago, there was an alarming news: Fair Trade USA (FTUSA) decided to water down their fair trade certification processes and to start including larger farms into the process. We understand what they are trying to do, namely trying to expand the knowledge of fair trade to a larger public, thus creating momentum for the movement. But, we all know the road to hell is paved with good intentions. Well, Fair Trade USA seems to be at it again. And because I am never far away from another metaphor we’re not in Kansas anymore. The ideals of what made the fair trade movement are being thrown to the wind. Fair Trade USA has announced that now a 20% threshold is enough to certify a product as fair trade!
Fair World Project, among many others, is vehemently criticizing Fair Trade USA’s new policy:
Fair Trade USA is electing to maintain its subapr threshold of just 20%fair trade contents to use a front panel label on the product with no requirement to list the percentage of fair trade ingredients.
At VavaVida, we have all kinds of problems with FTUSA’s new policy. mostly, these three:
- Dilutes labeling policy and hurts the very peoiple FTUSA was trying to help in the first place: small farmers
- It totally misleads consumers: people buying fair trade products look for high quality products made ethically. 20% fair trade ingredients is no gauge of quality. In fact, large corporations are far from the most scrupulous and ethical entities around. What prevents them now from greenwashing their products and holding themselves to higher standards?
- Creates market disadvantage for truly committed fair trade brands: Being fair trade certified is a very long and difficult process. What prevents Hershey’s to label their awful chocolate bars as fair trade? All they have to do is to put 20% of cocoa in their bars and done. Especially for milk chocolate where cocoa is a not the primary ingredient.
Talking about Hershey’s, they are doing just that. Fair World Project denounced that Hershey’s announced their plans to work with FTUSA very shortly after the American fair trade certifier announced their major policy changes. Hershey announced that they would source 100% of their cocoa from fair trade sources by 2020. Good news, right? But what about the dairies, vanilla extracts and sugars that make for the largest part of the ingredients contained in chocolate?
To give out some perspective on this subject, our high quality delicious milk chocolate from Equal Exchange has 38% of cocoa because of all the other ingredients!! I let you imagine what Hershey’s bars will contain!!
This Fair Trade hoax takes advantage of consumers’ intentions to buy (real) fair trade products.
What will happen to the fair trade movement and to the trust people have deposited in it?
In my opinion, what FTUSA is doing is completely irresponsible and undermines everything that they themselves and others have worked on so hard to achieve over the years.
You be the judge Vavas…
Ben&Jerry’s, the awesome ice cream company is slowly sourcing 100% of its ingredients to fair trade certified products. We all know they are great, but now what will happen to this bold move? How will it be valued if even Hershey can be a fair trade certified business? Will they still take the high road or the easy way out?