Fair Trade vs Direct Trade
Fair Trade vs Direct Trade is a debate that has been going on for almost two decades now. Fair Trade is an economic model that aims to reduce inequalities in commodity supply chains and shorten the distance between producer and consumer. Direct Trade, on the other hand, is a system that strives to improve farmer livelihood and traceability along the value chains from farm to shopping bag. Both models have their pros and cons, but overall, they both make a difference.
Fair Trade is criticized for its lack of transparency and high administrative costs, while Direct Trade is accused of being elitist and benefiting only a small number of farmers. However, Fair Trade certified products are often more expensive than Direct Trade products, which makes them less accessible to consumers. And in the end, it's up to the consumer to decide which model they want to support.
Want to hear the difference between the two models?
Fair Trade is an economic model that promotes more equitable and secure trading relationships between producers and consumers. Fair Trade Certified products must meet a set of rigorous standards designed to ensure that farmers and workers receive a fair price for their products, have decent working conditions, and can invest in their communities. Fair Trade also aims to empower producers by giving them a stronger voice in the global marketplace.
Direct Trade, on the other hand, is a business model that focuses on developing close relationships between roasters and farmers. Direct Trade coffee roasters typically visit the farms where their beans are grown, get to know the farmers, and develop long-term contracts that guarantee a fair price for the coffee.
Direct Trade roasters also often provide technical assistance and training to farmers to help them improve the quality of their coffee. While Fair Trade sets minimum standards that must be met in order for a product to be certified, Direct Trade businesses often go above and beyond these requirements to build true partnerships with the farmers they work with.
Critics of Fair Trade argue that the Fair Trade certification process is too bureaucratic and expensive for small-scale producers to participate in. This is done through intensive site visits and audits to ensure that Fair Trade farms and factories adhere to predetermined international standards created by Fair Trade labeling organizations that take into account child and slave labor, sanitary conditions on farms and factories. Ironically, they also argue that Fair Trade standards are not always well enforced.
Critics of Direct Trade argue it is nothing more than a marketing gimmick used by big coffee companies to sell more expensive coffee. They also argue that Direct Trade does nothing to address the underlying inequalities in the global coffee market.
Whether you're a Fair Trade supporter or critic, there's no denying that both models have their strengths and weaknesses. What's important is that we continue to have these debates so that we can learn from each other and continue to strive for a more equitable and sustainable global economy.
Direct Trade Is A Powerful and Effective Alternative To Fair Trade, But Here's How To Spot Greenwashing Tactics
There are many companies that adhere to fair trade principles but do not have official certification. These companies usually have robust policies in place to ensure that their workers are treated fairly and paid a livable wage. They also typically partner with small-scale farmers and producers who use sustainable growing practices.
When you buy from fair trade companies, you can be confident you're supporting responsible businesses that are making a positive impact on the lives of workers around the world. But sometimes you can't. Sometimes people lie. Or just don't realise what's going on behind the scenes. And there's no worse feeling than that sinking realisation you've given money to folks that talk the talk but don't walk the walk. Or worse... they move fast and break things.
Direct trade requires as much time and energy and effort as fair trade. Real, fair trade doesn't happen overnight and it can't be maintained on good faith. Maintaining checks and balances and decency... takes work. Commitment. Diligence and patience.
The rewards of fair trade — for all of us — are so radically joyful and truly life-changing that all the obstacles crumble away for those who see the power of a future that's fairer, kinder and more inclusive. A world that's all the richer for all that is a world we want to live in... will live in. It's coming. Already here. A path trodden. Let's evolve it!