Our experience shows that the biggest driver of economic improvement for Fairtrade farmers and workers is higher Fairtrade sales. If farmers only produce small volumes or their organizations only sell a small percentage as Fairtrade, it may not be enough to escape from poverty.
Fairtrade’s new strategy seeks to deepen our impact by enabling producer organizations to secure the revenues they need for workers to be paid a living wage and for farmers and artisanal miners to earn a living income.
In 2015, there were 1.6 million Fairtrade farmers and workers across 75 countries. We certified our first producer organization in Tajikistan.
2015 saw strong growth of 12 percent, led by sales in France, Germany and Sweden. Most Fairtrade bananas come from the Dominican Republic, Colombia, Peru and Ecuador, where producers face additional problems such as droughts. In 2016, we trialled a new way of collecting data to help us calculate Fairtrade Minimum Prices, wages and the cost of production, including a living wage for workers. The extra data gathered will enable producer organizations to make more informed business decisions.
Cocoa sales grew by 27 percent in 2015 driven by the Fairtrade Sourcing Program. This enabled us to increase our efforts in West Africa in 2016. We enabled more cocoa farmers to strengthen their organizations by providing additional support on certification. We also provided specific training on management and governance, project management and farmer outreach.
Fairtrade coffee sales have maintained steady growth with an 18 percent increase. These Fairtrade sales have been very important to producers especially given the 2015 international market price for coffee has frequently fallen below the Fairtrade Minimum Price – which has served as a safety net.
The Fairtrade Finland Development Cooperation Programme supports over 200,000 producers towards sustainable livelihoods and strengthening their organizations. Fairtrade International, the Latin American and Caribbean Network of Fairtrade producers (CLAC), and local experts are supporting producers in El Salvador, who lost 70 percent of their 2014 coffee harvest to leaf rust, to recover from the catastrophe and learn how best to control the disease. Read more
In Kenya, we continued to challenge gender stereotypes and structures by launching a project with coffee cooperatives in 2015, encouraging the transfer of coffee bush ownership to women coffee farmers, enabling them to earn an independent income for the first time. Read more
2015 was a challenging year for Fairtrade cane sugar with the 32 percent drop in sales largely due to European Union (EU) policy changes. The EU’s 2014 decision to release additional beet sugar into the European food sector triggered a market price crash for beet sugar. This in turn made it harder for Fairtrade cane sugar to compete for supermarket shelf space.
This situation is set to worsen when the EU beet sugar quota is abolished in 2017. Fairtrade is working with sugar producers to find alternative markets. Through the Fairtrade Sourcing Programs, Ferrero has recently committed to sourcing 20,000 metric tonnes of Fairtrade sugar between 2016 and 2019.
The Fairtrade Sugar Standard was amended in 2015 to enable farmers to be more competitive. It also requires farmers to monitor and reduce inputs such as water and fertiliser and implement measures to increase their productivity sustainably.
The Fairtrade Textile Standard – launched in March 2016 – focuses on working conditions, wages, and workers’ rights. It’s the first standard in the industry to require living wages to be paid within a set time frame, and requires brands to commit to fair, long-term sourcing to fund wage increases. The Standard is complemented by the Fairtrade Textile Programme – participating factories will receive on-site support to meet the Standard’s requirements. Find out more
Cotton is a growing category for Fairtrade, with increasing opportunities for producers to sell via the Fairtrade Sourcing Programs and under the new Fairtrade Textile Standard. While demand for Fairtrade cotton remained steady, delays in the delivery of cotton to buyers led to a slight fall in sales in 2015.