The 2019 Fair Trade Conference: Notes from Day 2

By Jasmine Pineda, Madison Reichhold, Kylie Chow, Byron Brooks, and Gabrielle Bronx |
Riverside, Ca –
Jasmine’s Notes: From Saturday March 2nd 

1# Andrea Dennis/Katherine: Chicago Fair Trade & Fair Trade Towns

   In order to increase Fair Trade there are 5 steps: Build a team, engage retailers, commit to fair trade, commitments/events, and contact other organizations. Meanwhile, the U.S only has 45 fair trade towns, Europe has hundreds.

   The largest Fair Trade city in the U.S is Chicago. The birth of Chicago Fair Trade: 2006, group of leaders meeting for fair trade, OXFAM came to the U.S, Nancy was the one to come up with the mission. Chicago Fair Trade (CFT), has faith based members, non-profit composed of schools and businesses who believe in sustainability. We need institutions to be a part of the movement.

  • Rana Plaza Building Collapse: almost 2,000 dead
  • Anti-Sweat Shop: Buy sweat free

   Policy and education go hand in hand. THE TRUE COST of the Fashion Revolution: 1 in 6 people work in the global fashion industry! 

   How we grow our base: World Fair Trade Festival May 3&4, "Keeping it Fresh" is the Largest World Fair Trade Day/Celebration in the U.S, and in Chicago: Magnificent Mile of Fair Trade. Ways to be engaging: Invite them, feed them, and ask them! 

2# Paul Rice (Fair Trade USA)

   The idea of fair trade is to not see farmers/laborers as charity but as partners. For example in Rwanda, it is seen that it is difficult to make a living on farming. Aid-driven approaches didn’t work and made slow progress. Trade not aid, farmers just need a fair price for the products they are supplying.

  • Started Nicaragua’s Fair Trade co-op, demonstrated that fair trades gave farmers more profit than selling to local companies.

Fair price for a good product. The market can be a powerful force if we use it. FAIRTRADE USA is 20 years old and has 13,000 brands. One brand, Wholesome Tomatoes in 2018 generated over 100 million.

  • Conscious Capitalism: Sustainability can drive profitability.

   Shared Value: 1) Fair trade creates new value that is shared. 2) Innovation: creativity, courage, challenge beliefs/assumptions. Mainstream retailers are realizing consumers want fair trade products. 3) Public/consumer power

   A Call to action, connecting with our community, developing tools, and inspiration leads to taking action and talking about what we’ve learned. Creating a business in a developing country: find local leaders, organize with artisans/farmers.

3# Spotlight on Sustainable Coffee:

   Coffee in Crisis: Coffee market determines what prices are and how much farmers are paid. We’re at a crisis for farmers around the world because we are applying a minimum pricing for farmers. The Coffee Market is important for our economy.

   Here's a sustainable coffee challenge: holding organizations accountable, educate ourselves on the coffee market, challenging our institutions on fair trade, and working with local supermarkets and businesses... 

4# Grassroots and Global Development

   Change begins at the local level and expands into a global level. Fair Trade Los Angeles is focused on ending poverty through job creation. They educate and inspire consumers on being educated about fair trade, and most importantly, to create fair and sustainable wages.

   Start or join a local campaign and then create ideas. LA's Campaign, is working to make LA a fair trade town, which means there has to be 100 businesses to sell two or more fair trade items, and 100 organizations to serve 1 or more fair trade items.

  •    FTLA's Ambassador Program is all about engaging students to become a part of the movement. It is a streamlined process: online submission form, #LAFairTradeFinds

   There are different ways to engage the community: 

  • Create an educational platform: Raise awareness, change shopping habits, have FAIRTALKS, educate/create blogs.
  • Global Network: be a hub/connection point to advance many organizations.
  • Build a network and create a membership: business vendors
  • E-commerce: subscription box, POP-UPS, Local Community: build connections/relationships.

#5 Quito, Ecuador

   First fair trade town in Latin America.

“Every purchase counts”

   Following UN sustainable goals. Hosts seminars/ trainings for students at universities and makes sustainability/fair trade a part of the curriculum. One of the critics made by speaker: "no diversity in fair trade movement, focus is on Eastern Hemisphere, no talk about Latin America/Western Hemisphere." 

  • Business of Sustainability


   Democratizing Fair Trade, we need more workers under the Fair Trade system. How to attract consumers? Have fair trade available everywhere! Honest Tea is the first organic bottled tea

  • Fair Trade Journey: $2 million in Fair Trade Premiums, continued $490,000 in Fair Trade Premiums
  • Purchased 8,536,700 pounds of Fair Trade ingredients including black tea, cane sugar and rooibos.
  • Partnered with West Jalinga Tea Estate in Assam, india on a project.
  • Honest Tea Mobile: Helping Fair Trade come alive.
  • Democratizing Organics: Partnership with Wendy’s

   Educating women and girls, helps environmentally because women have less children or have children later on in life. The U.S life expectancy is ranked #38 globally, average age is (78). As Honest Tea is a small independent company growing leads to a greater impact in terms of increasing availability to the consumer. Honest Teas is making sure to use things that cannot be compromised.

  • Have patience in regards to developing small, sustainable companies.
  • Takes time for competitors or market to catch up to sustainability.

   Fair Trade is about Transparency!

#7 Cocoa: Five North Chocolate

  Sustainability and Partnerships

   Majority of farmers who produce cocoa live on less than $1 a day. The majority of farmers are from: Gote d’Ivoire, West Africa: Ghana, North. Burkina taso, Mali West: Guinee Liberia. The governments of these countries decides the price, people do not have access to the international price. The government receives 40% while the farmers receive only 60%.

   Five North Chocolate started a partnership with Fair Trade USA, with the fair trade premium, communities are able to build schools. Which in turn, improves the production and quality of products. Without fair trade, no matter how good the quality of the product is, the government sets a set price for the product. Fair trade means providing fair wages and sustainable products.It encourages products for your well being, good ingredients for the consumer and the planet.

   Five North Chocolate encourages diversity and is the first chocolate brand to have a  LGBT seal. Remember, Cocoa comes from a fruit which is then made into cocoa and then chocolate is the processed version with sugar. It is very important to gain the trust of farmers.

All brands can start small and branch out, Fair Trade USA aids small business with established sellers.

  • Deforestation is a big issue: 80-90% of forests have been cut down in the last 10 years due to increasing agricultural lands.
  • Government approach: help build schools and health centers, but deforestation is the price! 

    Thus concludes the second day of our intern's experience at the Chicago Fair Trade Conference, this year.