Fundamentals of Fair Trade: Sustainability efforts in the fruit industry
Fair trade is one of the foundations of new sustainable agriculture, and according to experts, is one of the main ways to confront the Covid-19 pandemic. This is because developing an economic model that puts people's rights and caring for the environment at the center is essential.
Through its actions, fair trade has become an ally for the fulfillment of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
On World Fair Trade Day, FreshFruitPortal.com interviewed key industry members around the world who aligned their actions to promote fair trade as a marketing alternative, oriented towards a fair and sustainable economy.
"Fair trade adds value in any industry, but in particular for the fruit and vegetable industry as it is one of the most demanding in terms of physical work, not only adds value but also provides a necessary element for food production to have well-paid and sustainable work."
“Driscoll’s is a company committed to the well-being of its workforce and the communities everywhere it operates. This commitment led us to establish our global labor standards and work with our independent producers to continually improve working conditions through audits and farm improvement plans. "
“We knew we could do more than that, so we decided to partner with Fair Trade USA. Their certification is not only in line with our global labor standards, but it also allows us to have a direct impact on the local community and the people who live and work in the region."
“The program introduces new ways to support the endeavors of our growers, empower workers to address the needs of their communities, and enable buyers to make a positive impact on the lives of the people who grow our berries."
"In addition, we strictly adhere to international labor standards and we take charge of the commercialization of berries through retail partners with a high sense of fair trade, returning to independent producers around 70% of the profits and in turn, they multiply throughout the business value chain and, of course, in the communities where they operate."
"Fair Trade is an alternative model to the conventional trade paradigm and gives farmers access and power in the global marketplace. Considering small scale farms form the vast majority of the global agricultural system, Fair Trade benefits the broader agricultural industry by building a more resilient and inclusive global food economy where farmers have power and agency in their farming operations."
"Though Fair Trade captures a modest market share, the growth and resiliency of Fair Trade proves that an alternative trade model that values social, environmental and economic principles is viable. Through established minimum pricing, social premium funding and standards that guarantee protections as well as safe working conditions, Fair Trade raises the bar towards creating a more sustainable agricultural economy that places people and the environment at its center."
"At Equal Exchange Produce, Fair Trade principles of sustainability, transparency, and solidarity are deeply embedded into our trading practices. One hundred percent of our sourcing is through long-term partnerships with small farmer cooperatives, allowing producers and farming communities to generate stable incomes and livelihoods over time."
"Secondly, we value trust and transparency in all our supply chain relationships. At the sourcing level, this includes negotiating contract terms at the table together with producer partners. We have a high level of financial transparency with our producer partners, sharing costs, margin, and market information with each other, allowing us to navigate inherent market risks, challenges and opportunities together."
"Lastly, we strive to connect the consumer and producer ends of the supply chain, which, by design, remain disconnected and fragmented within the current food system. We see this as an important piece of our work, to build a shared vision and philosophy for the type of a global food economy we want to see."
“The value that fair trade provides to the fruit and vegetable industry is because it allows us to be one step ahead of existing and future requirements in the Northern Hemisphere's markets concerning human rights and sustainability practices."
"Human rights due diligence from retailers is becoming more and more common, and in the future, it will be a sort of standard. In the United Kingdom, there are already new laws that require due diligence in the entire value chain, including producers regarding modern slavery. In the Netherlands, the most recent regulations have to do with child labor. All of this implies fair trade, giving back what corresponds to each area of the value chain."
“At ProHass we are one step ahead. This year we are preparing a certificate of compliance for our partners. Not only concerning fruit quality but also with national regulations and international socio-labor and environmental standards. It is something that we want to propose to the local industry which we hope will be welcomed by our clients and that they can help us to position the Peruvian avocado at the top of the industry."
“Fair trade is based on the principles of fair working conditions and adequate wages, no child labor exploitation, gender equity and respect for the environment. Therefore, fair trade supports fair labor and productive relationships based on economic, social and environmental balance, which is essential for sustainable development."
“In the same way, integrating fair trade opens much more than new markets. Companies are more resilient, withstand crises better, attract talent, improve productivity and can manage and predict future challenges."
"Additionally, in the international market, 79 percent of consumers are modifying their purchasing preferences based on social responsibility, inclusion or environmental impact (Capgemini, 2021). This shows a link between sustainability and business benefits, showing that not having sustainable practices presents many more risks especially considering the current situation."
As a result of sandy, well-drained soils rich in organic matter and nutrients, blueberry production in Argentina is natural. This, added to the low salinity of the water that does not require any processing, results in organic production along with the best environmental conditions to be carried out.
In the NOA, for example, between 80 and 90 percent of blueberry production is organic or is in the process of being certified.
The certifications of Neutral Carbon and Water Footprint are highly valued by some consumers, especially the youngest as the product is much more than fruit they consume.
In this sense, the sector set out to promote production based on a triple impact. With a consumer aware of what they consume and increasingly environmentally responsible, the concepts of sustainability, integration and circular economy are gaining more relevance.
In Argentina, the System B proposal is beginning to gain strength, which aims for an economy that can create integral value for the World and the Earth, promoting forms of economic organization that can be measured from the well-being of people, societies and the land, simultaneously and with consideration of the short and long term.
Currently, the Argentine Carbon Neutral Program (PACN) is being developed, which is a private program of voluntary compliance to promote the unity of a sustainable brand for products of the Argentine food, beverage and bioenergy export sectors.
This brand is achieved by working together on quantification methodologies, measurement practices, improvement and neutrality of the carbon footprint until the economic value of the reductions is achieved.
Fair trade promotes responsible production through conscious consumption. This is reflected in the international market, where companies with greater foreign investment have a vision of impact. The agricultural industry would be enriched by addressing the social, economic and environmental impact, as fundamental pillars for the sustainability of the business in the medium and long term.
One of the ways that the positive impact of fair trade is visible is traceability. Which makes the production process and agricultural distribution transparent, thus promoting responsible consumption. Additionally, it allows the industry to reduce its acquisition risks, obtaining quality products that meet market standards. In this way, a new paradigm of more efficient and resilient consumption is generated.
CampoChange was born from the need to generate a more efficient and resilient distribution chain, based on fair commercial practices that generate communication and organization between the different actors of the food industry.
When analyzing the reality of small and medium agriculture, we are faced with an asymmetry of information and resources, which directly affect the profitability of the product. Where the key players are small and medium-sized farmers who represent more than 90 percent of the farms in Chile and Latin America. Its impact is such that production in the region feeds 45 percent of the world's population.
CampoChange integrates new technologies to put them to use in the industry, adapting to the needs of farmers and the evolution of food demand. In this way, we develop different abilities and tools that will contribute to the creation of sustainable ecosystems that adapt to climate change and the scarcity of natural resources, in addition to adapting to new emerging markets, thus enhancing their economic and socio-cultural development.
Richard Salazar Veloz, Executive Director, Banana Marketing and Export Associaion ACORBANEC - Ecuador
Fair trade is a strategy of marketing products such as bananas, to promote sustainable development and reduce poverty, ensuring that producers, especially small ones, receive a fair price for their products that cover their costs of production and provide an additional bonus that is invested in projects that improve social quality, economic and environmental development.
Regarding bananas, a minimum price is paid to producers determined by the Fairtrade Standards and Prices Unit and is different in each country. This price is intended to ensure that producers can cover their average production costs and acts as a safety net for farmers as world markets fall below a sustainable level.
Fair trade is based on the following principles:
a) Payment of a fair price - This means that the small producer must receive a profit proportionate to his work, acknowledging his effort and dedication.
b) Transparency and responsibility - Administrative processes must be correct and clear; in addition to ensuring trustworthy and fair business relationships.
c) Creation of opportunities for economically disadvantaged producers so fair trade small producers have an opening to the international market.
d) Capacity development - Through the bonus obtained for fair trade, the investment in training helps the development of staff skills.
e) Ensure the absence of child labor and forced labor.
f) Commitment to non-discrimination, gender equity and freedom of association.
g) Ensure good working conditions.
h) Fairer business relationships.
i) Respect for the environment - Verification that fair trade does not affect the environment with the production process.
j) Promotion of fair trade.