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  • Fairtrade discussion

    http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,20867,21634518-601,00.html

    Oxfams response at the end of the article is that the whole process is thoroughly audited. So wheres the information from the audits and who does the auditing?

  • #2
    Re: Fair Trade Article

    My concerns about fair trade coffee are with the limitations of the program - I think the principle is sound, god knows the farmers deserve a better share, but I think it was developed from an Oxfam perspective rather than a coffee perspective - I think a restructure of the program could deliver better outcomes for farmers, particularly if there were incentives for quality product.

    I also think that the cost of accreditation should not be borne by the farmer - but that is just my opinion.

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Fair Trade Article

      Wholeheartedly agree,

      I guess its another example of people wanting to do good but not investigating the realities of the targeted group properly to ensure that resources are directed to where they will do the most good..... i.e. on the ground at the farming communities in most need.

      On the other hand, I think the "Fair Crack" initiative that Andy has kicked off will ultimately generate more "real" benefit for the farmers in need, since that is the motivating factor behind the intention and from the feedback posted by members, has tremendous support from the membership at large. Once the details have been thrashed out, the administrative measures in place and the logistics management aspects identified and controlled (sounds easy if you say it quick ), Im sure that Fair Crack is going to realise valuable benefits for the people who need it the most.

      Good intentions are great, but unless those intentions are transferred into maximised benefits for the targeted group then all it really turns out to be, is nothing more than lots of pats on the back for the people who are running it and the deluded public who feel good basking in the glow of the organisations name.

      Im not cynical really, its just a shame to see an enterprise that could be doing so much better only realising kudos for the higher echelons of the organisation and its public image.

      Mal.

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Fair Trade Article

        more of US trying to control pricing again?
        their coffee stinks, I was lucky when I lived there I was able to pack a supply with me LOL

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Fair Trade Article

          Below is the article from the Australian linked in Lucas post.

          [hr]

          Oxfam coffee harms poor farmers
          Caroline Overington
          April 28, 2007

          TWO Melbourne academics have lodged formal complaints against Oxfam Australia over the sale of Fairtrade coffee, saying it should not be promoted as helping to lift Third World producers out of poverty because growers are paid very little for their beans.
          Tim Wilson, a research fellow at the Institute of Public Affairs, and Sinclair Davidson, professor of institutional economics at RMIT University, have asked the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission to investigate Oxfam, saying it is guilty of misleading or deceptive conduct under the Trade Practices Act.

          Mr Wilson said there was evidence that Fairtrade products could do more harm than good for coffee producers in undeveloped nations. He cited reports alleging producers had been charged thousands of dollars to become certified Fairtrade providers and some labourers received as little as $3 a day.

          In order to lodge the complaint, Mr Wilson purchased a 250g pack of Fairtrade organic decaf ground coffee from the online Oxfam shop.

          "We purchased this product in good faith, with the aim of lifting people out of poverty while enjoying our favourite brew," Mr Wilson said, in his letter to ACCC chairman Graeme Samuel.

          Mr Wilson and Professor Davidson have long held doubts about whether Fairtrade products help coffee, tea and cocoa producers in undeveloped nations. Sales of such products in Australia total about $8million.

          The complaint to the ACCC refers to an article published in the Financial Times last September, which said Fairtrade coffee beans were "picked by workers paid below minimum wage". It claimed workers received the equivalent of $3 a day.

          The coffee is sold at a premium to people concerned about Third World poverty.

          The academics quote an analysis of Fairtrade, published in the US-based Cato journal, which says coffee producers in poor nations are charged $3200 to become certified Fairtrade providers. The producers costs are therefore higher than on the open market. The Fairtrade campaign aims to manage the international coffee trade by fixing prices at $US1.26 ($1.64) per pound (454g) and eventually fixing supply.

          "Oxfam says the Fairtrade coffee allows growers in developing countries to sell coffee at a decent price but we dont accept that the Fairtrade system can work," Mr Wilson said.

          "Our primary complaint is that this is an unsustainable system. The only sustainable mechanism is through free trade. They are artificially cooking up the international coffee trade, to promote the interests of the Fairtrade brand and the people who sign up to it."

          Fairtrade coffee is stocked by Coles and the Hudson coffee chain. Origin Energy and Orica make Fairtrade coffee available to staff in their Australian offices.

          Oxfam rejected the academics claims. It is this week promoting a Fairtrade Fortnight. To mark the event, Oxfam Australia invited Costa Rican coffee farmer Guillermo Vargas to a series of lectures on Fairtrade.

          Oxfams Neil Bowker rejected criticism of the Fairtrade coffee project, saying: "Its all audited and monitored, from beginning to end, and weve got no doubts about the effectiveness."

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Fair Trade Article

            Originally posted by luca link=1178081459/0#0 date=1178081459
            So wheres the information from the audits and who does the auditing?
            I know some of their auditing is "interesting". As a FLO certified seller you need to provide your own audit and sales numbers to the FLO (quarterly) and if the numbers dont look right then the FLO may ask for an independant audit too.

            I also assume that their own internal audits are far more extensive due to the numbers involved but tracing it from this side of the fence is another question.

            So many players in the mix it is hard to know where the money goes. FLO (UK), FLANZ, FTAANZ, OXFAM and thats without orgs like Transfair and others that come into the picture in different regions.

            A quick google found a UK account report from 2005 that makes for interesting reading. The figures in it are not the "support the farmer" part of Fairtrade but are the license fees that wholesalers are charged to sustain the business that collects the money. GBP 2,200,000 income, GBP 1,900,000 outgoings.

            The "staff costs" seem to be spread across a few different areas of the balance sheet. #10 Public Education -- Staff Costs GBP 300,000
            #11 Governance -- Staff Costs GBP 13,000
            #12 Support -- Staff Costs GBP 118,000
            #14 Staff Costs -- GBP 800,000

            ...so GBP 1,200,000 of the total 1,900,000 in expenses was "staff costs".
            (AU$3,000,000!!!!)

            Including "No employee earned more than GBP 60,000 per annum"
            (circa $145,000 Aussie dollars!)

            They do make mention of tens of thousands of voluteers hours for the Fairtrade fortnight but I guess those volunteers dont know just how fat some of the pay packets are in the business.

            http://www.fairtrade.org.uk/downloads/pdf/accounts2005.pdf

            I dont suggest that the Australian arm has the same figures, in fact I understand that the numbers here will be much smaller but worldwide the "extra fat" must be huge.

            :-[

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Fair Trade Article

              Originally posted by Andy Freeman link=1178081459/0#5 date=1178115417
              I dont suggest that the Australian arm has the same figures, in fact I understand that the numbers here will be much smaller but worldwide the "extra fat" must be huge.
              And there-in lies the problem I guess,

              Too much of the available resources and money just goes towards propping up the organisation, once again the few benefit from the kind auspices of the many.... Not a good formula in my book,

              Mal.

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Fair Trade Article

                Something that struck me about the accreditation, why is there a charge for it at all???

                The money would be far better spent in improving growing techniques, higher wages for the pickers etc and education for the families in the region. $3200 goes a hell of a long way in some of these countries.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Fair Trade Article

                  Like many charities, the administrative costs far exceed what goes to the needy.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Fair Trade Article

                    Originally posted by Andy Freeman link=1178081459/0#5 date=1178115417
                     As a FLO certified seller you need to provide your own audit and sales numbers to the FLO (quarterly) and if the numbers dont look right then the FLO may ask for an independant audit too.
                    Did somebody mention my name??? Yeah, if the numbers dont look right then I might have to send the boys around!  [smiley=evil.gif]  ;D

                    Flo

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Fairtrade discussion

                      Hi all.
                      I know this topic has been raised and there are many passionate people out there on this topic.

                      The company i work for has a "Corporate Social Responsibility" committee that has seen the company make donations to worthy causes. Last year we donated 20K to Mission Australia for a playground.

                      One of the new items on their agenda is the coffee we use here in the Melbourne office, it is sourced through a corporate coffee supplier but comes branded from a well known roaster. They now want to change to Free Trade coffee because of all the reports they have read/heard in the media etc.

                      I have a couple of questions.
                      • How valid is Fair Trade
                      • If this really is valid then can someone suggest a supplier where i know we can purchase legitimate fairtrade beans (roasted or green as i could roast them for the office  


                      If the company i work for is intent on going down this path then i have no issue but i dont want to see them putting good money down with an expectation that may not be met.

                      In the last bean bay i believe additional money was collected to generate a fund in this direction??

                      Perhaps purchasing coffee here is the answer??

                      Your thoughts greatly appreciated

                      Mal

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: Some advice on Fairtrade

                        Personally I think theyd do better investigating how do donate more directly to the coffee farmers.

                        I dont like what I hear about Fairtrade overheads and costs to the farmers.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: Some advice on Fairtrade

                          They can always donate to fair crack through CS. Easpecially if CS Brown is online.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: Some advice on Fairtrade

                            The Fairtrade label/brand makes for great advertising. Unfortunately the farmers it purports to be all about see little of the money spent on it.

                            Heres a recent discussion of it: http://coffeesnobs.com.au/YaBB.pl?num=1178081459


                            The money would see far better use if it were spent on CS brown via FairCrack: http://coffeesnobs.com.au/YaBB.pl?num=1176981835


                            Java "Fairtrade can kiss my you know what" phile
                            Toys! I must have new toys!!!

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: Some advice on Fairtrade

                              I can recommend Jasper Coffee as a reputable, down to earth, and honest FT roaster, who have an excellent product, are passionate about providing genuine assistance to farmers, and who will happily de-bunk a lot of the clap-trap and misinformation which is circulating about FT coffee.

                              As someone who sells FT coffee (from Jasper) through my cafe, I can tell you that the response from my customers has been phenomenal, and has exceeded all expectations, and that the FT farmers that I have spoken to from Costa Rica and from the Okapa region from Papua New Guinea can and do attest to how FT coffee certification has benefited the farmers and their community.

                              FT coffee is just like any other product, theres good and bad out their, but to tar the whole lot with the same brush does not in my mind do justice to those with a serious commitment, and vested interest, in producing a quality product, and elevating poverty at the same time.

                              Feel free to personal message me if you want further details and contacts

                              Regards,

                              Patrick Sloane

                              Comment

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