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Fair Trade Certified (tm) Foods Featured in Thousands of Supermarkets, Restaurants and Café's Throughout the Country; Chef Tastings, Farmer Visits, and Community Events Reach Consumers
Oakland, CA (October 1, 2004) - TransFair USA, the nation's only independent, third party certifier of Fair Trade products, proudly announces the kickoff today of the nation's first annual Fair Trade Month celebration. Activities include an impressive variety and number of events hosted by TransFair USA and its partners, clients and supporters, all of whom are spreading the message that Fair Trade Certified foods are now widely available across the US.
The main 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, with banana farmers from Ecuador and coffee farmers from Nicaragua, are taking 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, their families and their communities.
Additionally, more than 900 supermarket locations in and around major cities across the U.S. will offer consumer-focused promotions or events. And more than 200 Fair Trade food retailers in eight states will host events to showcase the quality of Fair Trade Certified products.
"Fair Trade Month is a celebration for farmers, businesses, and consumers alike. 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. TransFair is grateful to our clients, industry partners and community partners around the country who will make Fair Trade Month a resounding success," said Paul Rice, Founder and CEO of TransFair USA."
Why Fair Trade Certification is Needed
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 is an innovative, market-based approach to sustainable development. Fair Trade helps family farmers in developing countries gain direct access to international markets, as well as develop the business capacity necessary to compete in the global marketplace. By learning how to market their own harvests, Fair Trade farmers are able to bootstrap their own businesses and receive a fair price for their top-quality products. This leads to higher family living standards, thriving communities and more sustainable farming practices. Fair Trade empowers farming families to take care of themselves - without developing dependency on foreign aid.
"Each morning when I begin work, I am aware of how grateful I am to Fair Trade for making my family's life better. It is incredible to be here for Fair Trade month, meeting in each city the American consumers and businesses who buy my bananas. I am proud to grow these bananas, and I hope everyone enjoys them," said Jovanny Coronel, a Fair Trade banana farmer from the El Guabo cooperative in Ecuador.
Fair Trade certification has an impressive and steadily growing support base, ranging from coffee industry experts such as Cup of Excellence Co-founder George Howell, and award-winning specialty coffee roasters such as Duane Sorenson of Stumptown Coffee Roasters in Portland to Alterra Coffee Roasters of Milwaukee. Top-tier chefs Dan Barber of Blue Hill Restaurant, New York; Mark Weber of Watermark, Milwaukee; Greg Higgins of Higgins, Portland; and Traci DesJardins of Jardiniere and Acme Chophouse, San Francisco all serve Fair Trade Certified food in their restaurants. Fair Trade pioneers like Equal Exchange continue to expand their businesses and launch new Fair Trade products. Meanwhile, Fair Trade also continues 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.
"The distance food travels to the plate is ever growing. Whenever possible we need to source our foods locally - directly from the farmers who work the land. Fair Trade lets us have the closest possible connection with farmers of coffee, tea, chocolate, and tropical fruits that are grown in developing countries," said Dan Barber, Chef and Owner of Blue Hill Restaurant in New York.
Since TransFair USA opened its doors five years ago, U.S. businesses and consumers have purchased 56 million pounds of coffee, tea and cocoa. This has translated into millions of dollars in additional income for farmers in Latin America, Africa and Asia -- $45 million for coffee farmers alone. Farmers use the additional income to improve nutrition, healthcare, housing, education and quality of life for their families. The higher incomes also allow farmers to devote more meticulous attention to their crops to ensure a high quality harvest. For many, Fair Trade represents a chance for a brighter future.
For more information about Fair Trade Month activities, visit: http://www.transfairusa.org/content/support/events_ftm.php
About TransFair USA
TransFair USA, a 501 (c) 3 nonprofit, is the sole Fair Trade certification organization in the U.S. Its rigorous audit system, which tracks products from farm to market, verifies industry and farmer compliance with Fair Trade criteria. TransFair authorizes companies to display the Fair Trade Certified label on products that meet this high standard. TransFair USA is part of a global certification network with a 15-year history of success in over 60 countries. In addition to coffee, TransFair also certifies Fair Trade tea, chocolate, bananas and other fresh fruit. To learn more, visit: www.transfairusa.org.