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Talk:Fair trade standards

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Alternatives to minimum price?[edit]

Re minimum price - the advantage is that it reduces the opportunities for exploitation, but the disadvantage is that it reduces the incentive to innovate and to streamline processes. Reducing cost would also lead to a greater market share.

Minimum wages and a good standard of living are what is really desire - can they be achieved without a minimum price? --Chriswaterguy 01:55, 23 July 2013 (PDT)

Of course, the real problem is how to determine the minimum price and who is doing that determination. And then it becomes messy when the minimum price falls below the market price, as happened with cocoa recently. The ethical consumer has to ask him/herself what they are actually getting for the extra fairtrade premium on the consumer product they are paying for. Unfortunately, it appears that the answer is very little - and the benefits to the farmer represent a fraction of the extra cost to the consumer. Also there are many reports of fairtrade farmers who have consented to all of the fairtrade process but can then not find markets for the whole of the their crops, and so find that they are no better - or in fact worse - off.
There are systems in play where a minimum price does not come into play, such as the UTZ certification. Whilst it is certainly true that many in the 'fairtrade movement' are suspicious about this kind of private certification system, it seems to me that there is very little direct evidence to show that the complexities of the FLO certification offer direct advantages to farmers over UTZ. I'm afraid that the majority of evidence I've seen suggests that FLO makes very little difference to the living opportunities for those involved, and often at considerable cost + complexity with uncertain demand.
An additional problem often observed is that FLO (and, actually, almost all of the ethical certification systems) usually only offer the minimum price on the most basic type of product - often where that particular product already floods the market and is therefore very cheap. Many small ethical brands are now moving away from fairtrade by focusing on single estate and/or higher quality products where they can have a much greater impact on the livelihoods of those involved (because the premium crops demand a much higher price). At its root, this is a philophical problem: do you improve a large number of people's lives very slightly by certifying a mass market product or do you try to dramatically improve a much smaller number of people with a premium product which pays far more than the fairtrade minimum anyway. Joeturner 04:54, 23 July 2013 (PDT)