Am I Made for Fair Trade?

(Admin’s note: Blog edited November 9, 2009 for minor changes and clarity.)

What’s this Fair-Trade stuff all about?

(a quick recap from last blog post)

Fair-Trade certification is an organized social movement & economic-based approach that aspires to help producers in developing countries promote sustainability by paying close attention to the details in trade & cutting out the middle man.

This means the farmers are being paid fairly for their work, the living and working conditions are safer & the producers have direct access to international markets, thereby cutting out the middle man and extra costs.

In today’s society of social responsibility our cars are becoming gas sippers as opposed to gas guzzlers, our papers & plastics are becoming more recyclable and our homes are becoming greener. It’s fashionable to care about more than just what affects us & us alone. Fair-Trade coffees fit cozily right in the middle of that societal fad.

In addition to the social responsibility, there’s also the health aspect. With people searching for ways to lead a healthy & long life, the organic market keeps growing and growing. Currently, according to TransFair USA, 60% of Fair-Trade certified coffees in the U.S. are also certified organic.

Am I made for Fair-Trade?

When you’re adding new coffees to your line-up, it’s a perfect time to re-evaluate your customer base. You should ask yourself some important questions when considering Fair-Trade Organic coffees:

  • Ultimately the decision to bring in Fair-Trade Organic coffees is one that can increase sales, with the right amount of effort and research involved.

    • If you’re near a college or university you may think about appealing to the different humanitarian and environmentalist groups often found on campuses. By introducing Fair-Trade Organic coffees, you’ll appeal directly to these customers.
    • You can think about creating a “Fair-Trade Friday” or an Organic day where you offer an “Only Organic” special of all Fair-Trade & Organic items. You can offer a Fair-Trade & Organic coffee or espresso based drink with Organic milks & an organic scone or muffin at a discounted price.
  • Know who your customers are and what they like! It sounds trivial but it matters. Take an informal tally one morning. Grab a couple pieces of paper and check off how many men vs. women, how many cups of flavored, dark, medium or light roasted coffees you sell. These little tidbits can be helpful when choosing which new Fair-Trade Organic coffees to bring in.
    • Don’t re-invent the wheel. Give your customers what they want and what you know already works. If they like a dark roast, bring in a dark roasted FTO. If they like Breakfast Blend, bring in a FTO Breakfast Blend coffee. Give them what they already like, but with a Fair Trade Organic twist.
  • Display your shelf-talkers where your customers can see them. Be prepared to talk to your customers who are interested about Fair-Trade Organic issues or about organizations like Café Feminino. This foundation serves to empower the women coffee producers who are now able to provide clothing and education to their children. This is the face of Fair-Trade Certified coffee; real men, real people and real lives.

The Cafe Femenino Foundation

Be educated about the kinds of coffees you’re offering and don’t be timid when it comes to telling your customers about it. If you’re asked a question that you don’t know the answer to, call us! (800-652-5282)

FTO coffee takes on a whole new meaning when your customers understand just what it is their dollars are supporting.

  • Alert your local media. Call them up and let them know you’re now carrying Fair-Trade Organic coffees and be specific.
  • Team up with a local woman’s group or foundation.
  • If you’re carrying Café Feminino you should also alert the Café Feminino Foundation so they can link to your business from their website, as an authorized retailer.

Sample, Sample, Sample! If you give it to them for free, chances are they’ll at least try it. It’s the best way to get someone to understand just how good your product is!

The possibilities are endless. Get creative and think about what your customers want and how you’re going to provide that for them. Talk to local organizations about partnering with them.
(fair trade page:

Cafe Femenino Foundation:

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