MORE THAN 100 MILLION people in the U.S.
drink coffee every day.
PHOTOS COURTESY OF TRANSFAIR USA
For a growing number of them, the coffee they’re
drinking is Fair Trade.
Fair Trade is a guarantee that a fair price will be
paid to coffee growers for their beans, higher than
what the market would dictate. U.S. businesses and
companies sign contracts in which they agree to buy
directly from farmers, and pay a fair price. They also
agree to provide pre-harvest financing to help the
farmers keep their businesses strong until payments
from the year’s harvest come through. A worker rakes coffee beans as part of the dry-
“By encouraging sound agricultural practices ing process (above). Members of the Cecovasa
and paying a fair price for high-quality coffee, both cooperative picking coffee in Peru (inset).
the farmers and our members benefit,” says Gary
Kotzen, a vice president in Costco’s food department.
Buying Fair Trade coffee is not just a matter of conventional practices.”
“doing the right thing,” Gary says. Discerning con- Currently, 221 Fair Trade cooperatives, repre-sumers have discovered that one of the perks of Fair senting 800,000 farmers and family members, sell
Trade practices is higher-quality coffee. their coffee as members of the Fair Trade Register.
Fair Trade Coffee,
roasted by Starbucks
“The relationship between the farmers, Star- Since the practice of Fair Trade began, millions of
bucks and Costco [see sidebar] is good business. It’s dollars in revenues have come back to the coffee
an investment in the farmers’ sustainability. And the growers—money that has gone to maintaining the
farmers we’re investing in have set goals to grow growers’ businesses and provided funding for
some of the best coffee in the world,” Gary notes. schools and medical facilities.
MEMBERS CAN NOW find
2-pound bags of whole-bean
Kirkland Signature Fair Trade
Coffee, roasted by Starbucks,
available at Costco.
“Fair Trade Certified coffees have taken top honors at coffee competitions around the world,” agrees Putting a face on Fair Trade
Paul Rice, founder and CEO of TransFairUSA, the “Fair Trade offers us a premium over the market
only 3rd party certification agency of Fair Trade price, which makes us work harder to produce better
products in the U.S. “With its higher quality and pos- coffee,” says Gregorio Gómez Goizueta, a member
itive social attributes, Fair Trade appeals to a sophis- of the Cecovasa cooperative in Peru.
ticated consumer who cares about where their food “With the Fair Trade price, producers have
comes from, how it tastes and who produced it.” been able to send their children to school,” he says.
“We’ve worked very
closely with Starbucks to ensure both quality and consistency,” says Gary Kotzen,
a vice president at Costco.
“Producers are able to make improvements to their
An answer to a problem homes and to buy small vehicles.”
“There’s enough of a
community of growers to
support the consistent quality, and the value, that
Costco members expect,”
Sheri Flies, corporate counsel for Costco, “The happiest time of my life was when I, the son
explains, “When coffee prices on the world market of a farmer, became the representative of the cooper-slide below the costs of production, it leads to ative my parents helped to establish,” says Juan Osco
unemployment, landlessness and hunger among Chanchua, a member of the La Florida cooperative,
small-scale farmers and coffee pickers throughout also in Peru.
the coffee-growing world, trapping farmers, families “As people, as farmers, our hope for the future
and communities in a cycle of poverty and debt.” is that we can continue to grow coffee and that prices
“Our goal with specialty
commodities such as coffee
is to create a sustainable
agricultural model that
continues to grow supply
to meet the needs of our
growth in the future.”
“With Fair Trade, small farmers join together to will be good,” says Chanchua. “We need this, or our
form larger cooperatives,” says Rice. “This allows children aren’t going to be educated, they’re not going
them to avoid the middleman and sell directly to to have food. I see Fair Trade as very important if we
larger markets, making it possible for them to earn are going to continue developing our futures, for our
three to five times more than they would through kids and for the cooperative as well.” C
Kirkland Signature Fair
Trade Coffee is available in
three blends: House, Decaf
and Espresso Roast.—TFJ