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Fair Trade: News & Updates

News Article

The blog post discusses the challenges faced by small-scale avocado growers in Mexico, particularly those associated with bringing their produce to the US market. The author, Nicole Vitello, President of Oke USA, shares insights from her visit to PRAGOR, a Fairtrade avocado cooperative in Michoacán, Mexico.

The cooperative consists of 22 small-scale farmer members, each owning 15 hectares or less. The organization manages the purchase, packing, and export of avocados to the US through Equal Exchange. The pricing structure involves weekly negotiations between the general manager and farmers, with prices set by APEAM, a trade association. Organic avocados command a higher price in the export market.

Vitello emphasizes the unique approach of Equal Exchange in exclusively sourcing avocados from the co-op, negotiating prices in dollars, and avoiding brokers or middlemen. The cooperative follows Fair Trade principles, ensuring fair wages and conditions for farmers. The blog stresses the commitment to transparency, with avocados bearing the Equal Exchange logo and being packed in branded boxes labeled "Small Farmers, Big Change."

The post highlights the cooperative's focus on empowering small farmers as business people who take on risks beyond cultivation. Despite challenges, the supply chain aims to reflect the true cost of growing avocados, fostering a connection between consumers and the specific group of people involved in the production process. The author advocates for a deeper understanding of the avocado industry, shedding light on the complexities of pricing, market functions, and the farmers' role. Overall, the post underscores the cooperative's dedication to providing a genuine story about the origin and journey of avocados consumed in the US.

News Article

On January 23, Greater Cleveland Partnership got an early morning wake up call when Sam Allard of Axios Cleveland broke the story that a coalition of grassroots organizations led by Cleveland Owns, the InterReligious Task Force on Central America, Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless, and the Greater Cleveland Housing Justice Coalition would be leading a walkout at the second annual Sustainability Summit organized by Greater Cleveland Partnership.

News Article

The article narrates the story of Indigenous communities in the Ixquisis valley in north-west Guatemala facing a conflict over a hydroelectric project by the company Energía y Renovación. The company promised development benefits, but locals, led by figures like Juan Alonzo and María Bautista, opposed it due to environmental concerns and false promises. The opposition intensified, leading to violent clashes and the death of Sebastián Alonzo in 2017. The article highlights the dangers faced by environmental activists in Latin America and the pivotal role of women like Bautista in opposing the project. Their efforts, including legal actions, led to the withdrawal of funding for the project in 2022, emphasizing the importance of protecting water resources for the Indigenous communities. Despite the setback, Energía y Renovación remains determined to continue the project.

News Article

Welcome to the vibrant celebration of human rights at the IRTF's 43rd Annual Commemoration Program, Fiesta De Derechos Humanos! As we gather to honor and reflect on the enduring pursuit of justice, this program book serves as a testament to the diverse voices advocating for human rights around the globe. Join us in commemorating the progress made and acknowledging the challenges that lie ahead in our collective journey towards a more just and equitable world. Through engaging narratives, powerful testimonials, and inspiring perspectives, Fiesta De Derechos Humanos encapsulates the essence of our shared commitment to fostering a world where human rights flourish for all.

To view the entire program book visit:

News Article

Thanks to everyone who showed their support for a just, alternative economy by attending the Ohio Fair Trade Teach-In and Expo 2023 at John Carroll on October 7. We were really pleased by the large turn-out and the sales generated to provide vital income to fair trade artisans and farmers in the Global South. Special thanks to all our co-sponsors and volunteers (especially John Carroll students) who made this event possible. A big shout-out to the students from five schools (members of Catholic Schools for Peace and Justice) who modeled in our Fair Trade Fashion Show!

Here is a list of 10 ways you can celebrate Fair Trade Month: meet farmers via online educational forums,  learn about fair trade marketing and merchandising, get discounts on ethically-sourced Halloween chocolate, support Ohio fair trade nonprofits like One World Shop, and more.  

News Article

In Philadelphia, a mural at 2200 E. Norris Street celebrates Mariana Cobos, an exceptional Fairtrade banana farmer in Ecuador. Mariana, a rare female farmer in a male-dominated industry, joined AsoGuabo, a Fairtrade banana cooperative, in 2010. Despite challenges, she persisted, contributing significantly to AsoGuabo's success. The cooperative, earning a Fairtrade Premium of $1 per box of bananas, utilized these funds for various initiatives, including farm efficiency improvements and healthcare services. The mural, created by artist Betsy Casañas, embodies Mariana's resilience and the importance of Fairtrade choices in supporting farmers like her. Fairtrade America emphasizes the impact of Fairtrade products, urging consumers to prioritize farmers' well-being.

News Article

This text discusses eco-friendly and sustainable alternatives for Halloween candies, focusing on ingredients, ethical sourcing, carbon commitments, green practices, and packaging. The article suggests brands that prioritize non-GMO and organic ingredients, fair trade practices, and ethical treatment of farmers. It emphasizes the importance of compostable and recycled packaging, along with carbon offset programs and renewable energy usage. The text also mentions options for homemade candies and provides guidance on recycling candy wrappers through programs like TerraCycle. The overall message encourages choosing environmentally conscious candies to make Halloween celebrations greener.

News Article

 In 1986, equal exchange was founded by Rink Dickinson, Michael Rozyne and Jonathan Rosenthal as a worker-owned fair-trade cooperative. They aimed to address the growing disconnection between consumers and the sources of their food. The radical idea was to create an alternative Trade Organization, promoting fair prices for farmers, supporting small farmer cooperatives, and ensuring ethical international trade. Over the years, consolidation in the food industry, driven by corporate monopolies, limits choices for farmers, businesses, and consumers. This concentration leads to exploitative practices, reduces options for communities, and contributes to food deserts and ecological damage. Experts argue against the for-profit, efficiency-based system, advocating for a diverse approach involving small and large entities, cooperatives, and fair trade. Despite challenges, efforts persist to reclaim control from corporate greed and create a healthier, fairer, and transparent food system through community-based initiatives.

News Article

In the investigative work titled Ecological and human dimensions of avocado expansion in México, profits resulting from this recent avocado boom “are concentrated among a few, powerful large producers, thereby limiting the social and economic benefits to the local community.” Juan, a small-scale farmer and Equal Exchange partner near the city of Peribán, provides context: “The majority of producers are smallholders, but newcomers tend to be large companies who are establishing themselves in the market.” With these new arrivals, he continues, “There is a larger profit that we as smallholders haven’t seen.” The profits raked in by larger companies most often end up in the hands of foreign ownership rather than benefiting the local economy. More yet, the market oversaturation brought on by these corporations drives down the prices paid to all producers.

The Fair Trade Alternative

Equal Exchange imports avocados exclusively from democratically structured, organic- and Fairtrade-certified cooperatives of small-scale farmers (each possessing under 10 hectares of orchard) in Michoacán. With direct weekly pricing negotiations, additional Fairtrade premiums paid to the cooperatives, and collaborative efforts to maximize efficiency, both parties strive to thrive ethically in an industry dominated by large, foreign-owned corporations.

As part of a cooperative, small-scale farmers have their avocados harvested and sold collectively. In doing so, they amplify their power within a market in which large-scale foreign corporations—and the packhouses that often serve as a bridge to them—wield undue control over pricing. In addition to economic benefits, the cooperatives foment positive ecological impacts in a region deeply affected by both local and global environmental trends. 

As if economic and environmental improvements aren’t enough, our partnering cooperatives also strive to bolster social services and general welfare in their respective communities. Such efforts are made possible by a “Fairtrade premium” of $1.356 per case of avocados that Equal Exchange tacks on to every purchase order. During the busiest times of the growing season, these premiums can amount to over $7,000/week (USD) paid to the cooperatives with the express purpose of reinvesting in their local communities.