You’ve probably heard the words ‘Fairtrade products’ bandied around quite a bit in the past few decades but you may not know exactly what it means. It sounds like it refers to products that are produced and traded fairly and while that’s certainly true, there’s a lot more to it than that.
Fairtrade is actually a non-profit organisation that licenses the use of the Fairtrade Mark on products in Australia and New Zealand. They don’t license this mark to just anyone though, companies that license the mark must comply with the internationally agreed global Fairtrade standards. Fairtrade standards ensure stable prices and decent conditions for all workers along the entire product supply chain. In Australia, we’re lucky to have some of the fairest working conditions in the world and it’s not unreasonable to expect the people who produce our favourite food items to receive the same conditions.
Fairtrade also focuses on the development of the supply chain. They work to bring small-scale farmers and businesses together in partnerships that benefit both parties. This way Fairtrade can offer rural communities a stable income so can they invest in developing their products and services. This keeps people in their own communities, doing sustainable work and being paid fairly for it. It also means people in developed countries can buy Fairtrade products knowing that they didn’t support a company that abuses it’s workers or utilises child labour.
So how exactly do Fairtrade products earn the Fairtrade Mark? Well first of all, they have to apply through Fairtrade and then prove through a rigorous process how their products are ethical and respectful of the environment and the people that produced them. This means fair conditions for the workers, low environmental impact and sustainable production.
If this sounds like a lot of work, that’s because it is. It’s much easier and cheaper to make non-Fairtrade products but for ethical business owners, it’s extremely important.
When República founder, Jacqueline Arias, took her family to her birth country, Columbia, in 2005 and witnessed first hand what mass coffee production was doing to her country, she couldn’t have República be anything but an ethical company. A coffee lover for life, Jacqueline was horrified to discover how terrible the local coffee was because the best coffee was being shipped overseas and manufactured into instant coffee by multinationals. The worst part was that it was then being shipped back to Columbia and sold to the locals at inflated prices. A practice that’s been repeated over the past few decades with other ‘trendy’ food items like quinoa and seaweed.
Upon her return to Australia, Jacqueline resigned from her journalist job and set out creating an ethical company that ensured coffee farmers in developing countries were not taken advantage of. Consumers of her products in developed countries pay a fair price for premium items and the farmers are able to maintain their livelihood at the same time.
And so República Organic was born. At República, ethics with impact is at the heart of our philosophy. We create organic coffee, Fairtrade cocoa and ethical products to ensure our supply chain is happy, sustainable and well looked after.
Keep an eye out for that Fairtrade Mark and know that when you purchase Fairtrade you’re supporting farmers and workers to improve their livelihoods and provide support for sustaining rural communities.