Blog #2: FTRN Booklet

Text 1:

"Even within the Fair Trade world, there are various labels, accreditations, terms and criteria identifying how some product, or some organization, advances social justice and environmental sustainability. Unlike with organics, Fair Trade is not regulated by any government institution or single authority. So, conscious consumers now need to use precious time to discern the significant differences between various Fair Trade accreditations... the level of trust consumers have in any accreditation is at risk if businesses using that accreditation act irresponsibly in other ways." (pg. 28)


It sickens me to think that businesses use false Fair Trade labels to accredit themselves with being socially just, when in reality they are only making attempts to improve their brand image. They are taking advantage of conscious consumers who want to make a difference, and ultimately giving the consumers a false sense of social responsibility. I believe that the government should create an institution in which this can be regulated. I do not see any difference in a company falsely stating that their product is organic or falsely stating that their product Fair Trade. Not only would such an institution benefit conscious consumers, but it would also benefit companies that do support fair trade by redirecting the consumers to legitimate Fair Trade businesses. Hopefully in the near future, some of the prominent international Fair Trade organizations can work with some governments to create ways of regulating this issue.

Text 2:

"Those who favor changing the system from within say that encouraging mainstream businesses to carry a few lines of Fair Trade items introduces the concept to vastly more consumers, benefiting far more producer families and communities. A differing view holds that developing alternative business models that capture significant market share will inspire higher standards in mainstream business... Many alternative-model advocates welcome the trend toward mainstreaming, but call on those businesses to move beyond a token investment in Fair Trade and pursue greater social responsibility in all their dealings." (pg. 26)


I found this discussion between reforming or replacing conventional trade with Fair Trade to be interesting. It introduced the idea that Fair Trade could vastly gain more popularity if a Fair Trade business could gain a large market share and influence other mainstream businesses. I see this as a possibility that could happen in the near future. The booklet discussed how coffee is the most popular Fair Trade product at the moment, and that Starbucks generated the most sales of Fair Trade products than any other retailer, but sold only 4% of its coffee as Fair Trade. Starbucks is already a mainstream company and holds a large share in the coffee market, if it only increased the amount of Fair Trade coffee it sold it could easily be one of the first trail blazers in introducing Fair Trade to mass consumers and influencing competitors. I believe Fair Trade advocates should focus on introducing alternative business models to the coffee market because it would be the most successful in comparison to other markets and it is an excellent starting point to begin informing mass consumers about Fair Trade.

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