Shannon Szymkowiak, World Fair Trade staff member, gave a basic introduction about fair trade and its operations on Friday in the Intercultural Center at the College of St. Scholastica.
According to Szymkowiak, fair trade means trading partnership based on dialogue, transparency, and respect between growers and purchasers.
The markets that fair trade are involved in include coffee, tea, cocoa/chocolate, fresh fruit, sugar, honey, wine, nuts, rice, cotton, spices, vegetables, and much more. Altogether there are 746 producer organizations.
In the year 2008, sales equalled £2.9 billion ($4.2 billion) worldwide. That number has increased more than 22 percent up-to-date. Sales are expected to double by the year 2050.
The employees of the fair trade business are the producers who grow the products; the small-scale farmers and producers who are employed by co-ops, associations, or democratically; and the workers who pick and sort the products.
The mission of the fair trade it a guaranteed fair price to the farmers and workers; gender equity for women; improved working conditions for the workers; everyone has a care for the environment; and the movement has a community impact.
Fair trade helps keep the workers in better living conditions then they would be if they worked with another organization. Szymkowiak stated that a worker who is employed by a different company has a house made of the earth and gathering from the ground; appose to a fair trade worker who has a house made of blocks and a tin roof.
Not only does fair trade produce healthy and organic products, the workers are teken care of. "You vote every time you spend your dollars," said Szymkowiak, suggesting consumers vote for fair trade.