When it comes to drinks there are no prizes for guessing the number one purchased drink is for most people (except children). It’s coffee, but there are also other companies that have been providing us with fairly traded options in other drinks too and let’s not forget water.
There are obviously lots of drink options out there and some inroads have been made just like with food. It’s worth googling about options and sharing any you have found so we can compile a list here or on the FB Collective Group page. The same principles apply to all drinks but as coffee is one of the key ones, let’s start there.
Coffee is the 2nd most widely traded commodity after oil. Coffee drinkers have become mere consumers, divorced from its origin, with little idea as to how the supply system works and the fact that most of the coffee growers are living in poverty and the issues around that like slave & child labour, long hours, unsafe conditions are presented.
New Zealand is a world leader in coffee, an industry “as complex as the wine industry” and has more coffee roasting companies per capita than anyone else in the world. A number of those companies are attempting to find sustainable & ethical sources by establishing direct relationships with the source. The remainder probably source from the big guys – companies so big they have the power to dictate the price levels and with the fluctuations in the market this can have a devastating effect on the farmers in developing countries. Which is where fair trade principles play an important role in ensuring they have a living wage to support to their families.
This image illustrates the difference between the standard Free Trade v a Fairly Traded Coffee. Say the cup of coffee is $3, farmers get 3 cents/cup for a Free Trade cup of coffee and for a Fair Trade version of that cup of coffee they get 5 times the amount. In most instances the price to us is even the same or only a fraction more so the switch is easy. However, the impact to those farmers is ENORMOUS.
Geoff White (GM Trade Aid) succinctly covered the issues re why fair ethical trading is so crucial in the “Living with Coffee” documentary (see link below) and the same principles apply across all products really.
“What FT tries to say is that these people are your neighbour, they are the people who live down the road… They’re just a wee bit further away.”
People often say FT products have a higher price to them and he states “everything’s got the same price, it just depends who we want to pay for it. So if you pay less for something, someone’s paying for it down the line. They’re paying the difference and normally they are paying in their lifestyle.”
More and more options are popping up for fairly traded drinks. Check out All Good’s Karma Cola and other soft drinks in their range. “The world drinks 1.9 billion coke drinks every day but the people behind the name ingredient have never earned a cent. So Karma Cola decided to do something about that. Every time someone buys a bottle of Karma Cola proceeds go back to the people who grow cola in Boma village, Sierra Leone.” I love hearing the positive stories behind some of the products we have seen but are unaware of how they came to be. Passionate people wanting to make a difference.
Living with Coffee is a NZ made documentary about a group of coffee roasters, FT cafe owners who go to visit Columbia and the farmers and illustrates a number of issues relevant to all FT sourced products and is well worth taking 30 minutes out to watch. I suggest you watch first without children as there is a small part that is a bit graphic. Watch Living with Coffee here…