Fair Trade Myths
The following article presents the myths and realities about fair trade. The Fair Trade
Federation is the trade association that strengthens and promotes North American
organizations fully committed to fair trade. The Federation is part of the global fair trade
movement, building equitable and sustainable trading partnerships and creating
opportunities to alleviate poverty. We thank The Fair Trade Federation for allowing us
to reprint and share this article with you.
or area, and other costs of living in the local context. Wages are determined
independently from North American wage structures and are designed to provide fair
compensation based on the true cost of production.
Myth: Fair Trade siphons off American jobs to other countries.
Reality: Fair trade seeks to change the lives of the poorest of the poor who
frequently lack alternative sources of income. As North American fair trade
organizations grow, they employ more and more individuals in their communities.
Most fair trade craft products stem from cultures and traditions which are not
represented in North American production. Most fair trade commodities, such as
coffee and cocoa, do not have North American-based alternatives.
Myth: Fair Trade is anti-globalization.
Reality: International exchange lies at the heart of fair trade. Fair trade organizations
seek to maximize the positive elements of globalization that connect people,
communities, and cultures through products and ideas. At the same time, they seek
to minimize the negative elements that result in lower labor, social, and
environmental standards which hide the true costs of production.
Myth: Fair Trade is a form of charity.
Reality: Fair trade promotes positive and long-term change through trade-based
relationships which seek to empower producers to meet their own needs. Its success
depends on independent, successfully-run organizations and businesses - not on
handouts. While many fair trade organizations support charitable projects on top of
their work in trade, the exchange of goods remains the key element of their work.
Myth: Fair Trade results in more expensive goods for the consumer.
Reality: Most fair trade products are competitively priced in relation to their
conventional counterparts. Fair trade organizations work directly with producers,
cutting out exploitative middlemen, so they can keep products affordable for
consumers and return a greater percentage of the price to the producers.
Myth: Fair trade production results in substandard goods for the consumer as
compared to conventional production.
Reality: While handmade products naturally include some variation, fair trade
organizations continuously work with their producer partners to improve quality and
consistency. Through direct and long-term relationships, producers and fair trade
organizations dialogue about consumer needs and create high quality products. Fair
traders have received awards at the international Cup of Excellence and Roaster of
the Year competitions, SustainAbility in Design, the New York Home Textile Show, and
Myth: Fair trade refers only to coffee.
Reality: Fair trade encompass a wide variety of agricultural and handcrafted goods,
including baskets, clothing, cotton, footballs, furniture, jewelry, rice, toys, and wine.
While coffee was the first agricultural product to be certified fair trade in 1988, fair
trade handicrafts have been on sale since 1946.
To learn more about fair trade, please visit Fair Trade Federation:
As awareness of fair trade grows,
so do many misconceptions about
fair trade. Below are some
popular myths about fair trade
and the realities behind them.
Myth: Fair Trade is about
paying developed world wages
in the developing world.
Reality: Fair wages are
determined by a number of
factors, including the amount of
time, skill, and effort involved in
production, minimum and living
wages in the local context, the
purchasing power in a community
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