Fair trade third-party certifier TransFair USA notes growth for fair trade coffee, wine, spice and fresh fruit imports in the U.S. driven by surge in consumer demand, increased brand recognition for certified goods

Graziela Medina Shepnick

Graziela Medina Shepnick

Apr 16, 2010 – PRNewswire

OAKLAND, California , April 15, 2010 (press release) – Record-Breaking Year for Fair Trade Coffee, Wine, Spice & Fresh Fruit Imports

TransFair USA's 2009 Almanac Highlights Fair Trade Imports, Additional Income and Community Investment Data

TransFair USA, the leading third-party certifier of Fair Trade products in the United States, enters the new decade on the heels of a record year for the Fair Trade movement. Today TransFair USA releases its annual Almanac. The 2009 edition showcases record volumes of Fair Trade Certified imports, Fair Trade expansion into popular new product categories, and reflects a surge in consumer demand and increased brand recognition for the Fair Trade Certified goods.

While the world economy continued to struggle in 2009, TransFair USA bucked the trend and certified more than 100 million pounds of Fair Trade coffee. This is an increase of 20 million pounds over 2008 figures and is more than was certified in TransFair USA's first seven years combined. Coffee is Fair Trade's flagship product, and its 2009 growth resulted in over $45 million in additional income paid to farmers, in the form of the price paid above the market rate and the value of the community development premium paid to farmers. The additional income can be reinvested into their businesses to build infrastructure and capacity, and the Fair Trade premiums into their communities for schools, roads, health care and other development efforts.

"As consumer demand for ethically-produced goods increases, we're able to chip away at the cycle of poverty that plagues farming communities around the world," said Paul Rice, president and CEO of TransFair USA.  "Through their participation in Fair Trade, farming families around the world captured more than $45 million in additional income. From those funds, $14 million will be invested in community development programs that provide access to education and life-saving health care."

Wine was another product that saw growth in 2009, totaling a 460 percent rise in imports in just its second year. TransFair USA certified the first Fair Trade wines for the U.S. market in 2008 and they have exploded in popularity since. This spike directly resulted in additional income for wine producers climbing from just under $15,000 in 2008 to $114,064 in this past year. Spices and vanilla saw a 240 percent growth in imports, and sugar rose by 20 percent. Some Fair Trade mainstays such as tea and flowers had similar numbers to 2008, while imports for cocoa represent the only category to dip in 2009.

One of the most exciting advances that occurred for TransFair USA in 2009 was expansion into several new product categories, showing that there is a demand in the U.S. market for Fair Trade items across the board. These new products include sports balls, olive oil, quinoa, Brazil nuts and shea butter. The seven new producer organizations that these products were sourced from saw almost $30,000 in additional income in just their first year.

As a third party certifier, TransFair USA brings producers and companies together in order to provide consumers with access to quality Fair Trade products. At the end of 2009, more than 350 certified producer organizations were affiliated with 813 companies that ranged from boutique shops to artisan coffee roasters to multi-national corporations. This combination has given rise to the over 6,000 Fair Trade Certified products now available in the United States, 259 of which were newly added in 2009.

The complete report is available at http://transfairusa.org/pdfs/Almanac_2009.pdf

Fair Trade certification is a market-based system for sustainable development that enables consumers to contribute to a better world with their dollars, simply by looking for the Fair Trade Certified label on the products they buy.  Importers and retailers pay fair prices and wages to farmers and farm workers who grow and produce goods in accordance with rigorous social, economic and environmental standards. Ultimately, Fair Trade empowers farming families to lift themselves out of poverty by investing in their farms and communities, protecting the environment, and helping them develop the business skills necessary to compete in the global marketplace.

About TransFair USA

TransFair USA, a nonprofit organization, is the leading third-party certifier of Fair Trade products in the United States. TransFair USA audits and certifies transactions between U.S. companies and their international suppliers to guarantee that the farmers and workers producing Fair Trade Certified goods were paid fair prices and wages. TransFair USA educates consumers, brings new manufacturers and retailers into the Fair Trade system, and provides farmers with tools, training and resources to thrive as international businesspeople. Visit www.transfairusa.org for more information.

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