Fair Trade Supporters Seek Federal RegulationThursday, January 04, 2007 > 10:05:53
(CBC News via I.E. Canada News Bulletin)
Shoppers shelling out a little more for fair trade coffees, teas and chocolates are too often being fooled by fake certification labels, say some groups pushing for federal intervention.
More than 450,000 kilograms of coffee sold in Canada with "Fair Trade" labels last year had no certification from TransFair, the Canadian organization that independently audits and certifies fair trade goods.
"The more individuals use or abuse the term fair trade, the less the consumer will be willing to purchase the products," said Rob Clarke, TransFair's executive director. "Basically, it puts in jeopardy the whole integrity of the system."
Fair trade products such as coffee or chocolate offer farmers in developing countries higher prices for their goods than they would typically receive on the world commodity markets. Money is directed to social and environmental development and fair labour wages.
Support for fair trade products has grown steadily. Canadians bought 21,500 kg of fair trade coffee in 1998, for example, and bought 940,000 kg in 2004.
Jeff Moore, who founded the country's first fair-trade coffee co-operative, Just Us in Grand Pré, N.S., is calling on Industry Canada to protect the term. He says that the federal government should regulate certification.
Industry Canada says it does not have plans to protect the term.
An international trade board, Fairtrade Labelling Organizations International, certifies fair trade products sold in 20 countries including Canada, the United States and Mexico.