Oct 202004
Authors: Julie Abiecunas

Most people don’t know where the cup of coffee they’re drinking

came from, said Laura Raynolds, a CSU sociology professor and

leader of CSU’s Fair Trade Research Group.

Raynolds talked about fair trade coffee Wednesday evening,

urging consumers to be aware of the origins of the coffee they

drink and to try to consume products that have been produced in the

fair trade market.

Fair trade coffee is based on having an equitable and fair

relationship between coffee producers and coffee consumers.

Advocates of the fair trade industry are concerned with making sure

coffee farmers make enough money, according to

www.transfairusa.org. Transfair U.S.A. is a program that aims to

make fair trade products available to the average consumer at a

regular grocery store.

There is the minimum world price set for the fair trade coffee

industry. The current world coffee price is $1.26 per pound of

Arabica coffee, more than twice the price of regular coffee.

Raynolds said coffee is the fastest growing commodity in the

fair trade industry.

“Coffee is the backbone of the fair trade market – last year

Europe imported $300 million of fair trade coffee,” Raynolds


Raynolds cautioned listeners to be weary of companies that claim

all of their coffee is fair trade.

“(These companies) lie when they say that (all of their coffee

is fair trade). They claim 100 percent of it is fair trade coffee,

but really it’s closer to about .8 percent that is actually

certified as being fair trade,” Raynolds said. “We need a

third-party organization who can verify and check the standards. As

busy consumers, we don’t have time for that.”

The top countries in the fair trade export industry are Mexico,

Peru and Columbia, and the top import countries are the

Netherlands, Germany and the United Kingdom.

Raynolds emphasized the need for the United States to purchase

more fair trade coffee to help families in poorer countries survive

and live with the hope that their children will be able to attend

school rather than working at such a young age. The hope is that

one day they will be able to escape poverty.

Raynolds gave the lecture in honor of Meyer Nathan, a man who

emphasized the values of community service and humanitarianism,

said Jared Orsi, CSU history professor. Orsi said a lecture on fair

trade seemed an appropriate topic for the event.

Some students think fair trade is a good idea.

“I think there’s some really good ideas behind fair trade;

people need to be more aware of its benefits,” said Rebecca

Quillen, a senior history major. “I don’t drink coffee, but if I

did, it would be fair trade.”

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