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OAKLAND, Calif. - TransFair USA, an independent, third-party certifier of Fair Trade products, Friday kicked off its first annual Fair Trade Month celebration, a month-long event that includes participation by hundreds of supermarkets.
Activities include a number of events hosted by TransFair USA and its partners, clients, and supporters, with the goal of educating retailers and consumers about the wide availability of Fair Trade-certified products.
"Fair Trade Month is a celebration for farmers, businesses, and consumers alike," said Paul Rice, founder and c.e.o. of TransFair USA. "This new level of awareness will have a profound and positive impact on the lives of fair trade farmers and their families, and on businesses that sell Fair Trade-certified foods."
More than 900 supermarket locations in and around major cities across the United States will offer consumer-focused promotions or events as part of the celebration. In addition, more than 200 Fair Trade food retailers in eight states will host events to showcase the quality of Fair Trade-certified products.
"These events are a great way of exposing consumers to offerings from fair trade companies," Cheryl Roth, co-founder of OrganicWorks Marketing, a marketing and consulting firm for the organic/sustainable industry, told Progressive Grocer. "With the implementation of Fair Trade, farmers and producers finally have an opportunity to get a fair price for their products and can avoid practices that would sacrifice quality."
The attractions of this year's celebration include five high-profile media events and a series of farmer tours throughout the country. The media events, which will be held in New York, Boston, Seattle, Portland, and Milwaukee, showcase Fair Trade-certified food -- specifically coffee, cocoa, tea, and tropical fruits -- prepared by some of the nation's top chefs.
The Fair Trade farmer tours, which will include banana farmers from Ecuador and coffee farmers from Nicaragua, will take place in Boston, Seattle, Portland, and Milwaukee, and are aimed at educating the public about how Fair Trade significantly improve the lives of Fair Trade farmers and their communities.
Throughout Latin America, Asia, and Africa, family farmers follow generations of tradition to cultivate the world's finest coffee, tea, cocoa, bananas, and other food products. Historically, however, lack of market access and price volatility in global commodities markets have prevented family farmers from receiving a fair price for their harvests. When local market prices fall below the cost of production -- as they have with coffee for the past several years -- farming families struggle just to survive.
Fair trade aims to help these farmers gain direct access to international markets, as well as develop the business capacity necessary to compete in the global marketplace.
Items produced under Fair Trade continue to make inroads into the mainstream through the efforts of companies like Procter & Gamble, Dunkin' Donuts, Starbucks, Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, Sam's Club, Stop & Shop, Giant, Tops, and Fred Meyer supermarkets.
Said OrganicWorks' Roth: "An increasing number of companies today make social responsibility a core value within their infrastructure. Sambazon, for example is a company that was specifically started to not only import innovative fruits from Brazil, but also to create a sense of structure and sustainability for the indigenous peoples of the Amazon rainforest. The scale is finally balanced, and it becomes a win-win for everyone."