Global sales of Fairtrade products rose by 8 percent to nearly €8.5 billion in 2017, generating estimated premiums of €178 million for farmer and worker organizations, Fairtrade International’s annual report shows today.
The report, entitled Working together for fair and sustainable trade, also highlights how Fairtrade is ramping up its action to help achieve sustainable livelihoods for farmers and workers, at a time when world coffee prices are around 12-year lows.
The 2017-2018 report showcases the sustainability scheme’s work to share the benefits of trade more equally: sharpening strategies to achieve living incomes and living wages for farmers and workers, strengthening the position of women and young people to drive change in their communities, supporting farmers’ organizations to mitigate the effects of climate change, and working with international partners to help deliver the Sustainable Development Goals.
Farmer and worker organizations received an estimated €178 million of Fairtrade Premium on top of their sales income, to invest in projects of their choice – a 19 percent increase from the previous year.
During 2017, Fairtrade worked with more than 1.6 million farmers and workers across 75 countries. Some 30,000 different products with the FAIRTRADE Mark were available in 150 countries worldwide. The UK continued to be the biggest Fairtrade market by retail sales value, followed by Germany and the USA, while most other Fairtrade markets grew by double digits.
Sales volumes of key Fairtrade products also grew significantly in 2017. Most notably, cocoa sales increased by 57 percent. Fairtrade sugar sales posted strong growth – 30 percent – recovering from a significant drop after the European Union’s 2015 decision to abolish caps on the production of competing European beet sugar. Fairtrade coffee farmers benefitted from a 15 percent sales increase and banana growers sold 11 percent more than in the previous year.
While Fairtrade regards higher sales as a crucial driver of economic improvement, more is needed to bring about long-term sustainability for farming communities.
“We believe that all farmers and workers deserve to earn a decent living for what they produce,” said Darío Soto Abril, Global CEO of Fairtrade International. “Over the past two years, significant drops in coffee and cocoa prices on the global market – borne by farmers themselves – have made clear that a fair price must be a critical element of a holistic approach to living incomes for smallholder farmers.”
For farmer cooperatives, Fairtrade will test out a living income roadmap with an initial focus on the cocoa sector in West Africa. For plantation workers, tailored models to progress towards living wage levels are currently being developed, focusing on bananas and flowers at the first stage.
According to Soto Abril, a collective effort is needed. “Fairtrade offers approaches to distribute more value back to farmers and workers, and we will work with governments, civil society, businesses, farmers, workers, and consumers to make sustainable incomes a reality.”