After five years of discussions and planning, small producer organizations in Latin America and the Caribbean have officially launched their own seal (or symbol, as they are calling it) to help consumers distinguish which Fair Trade products come directly from small farmers. In recent years, Fairtrade Labelling Organization (FLO International) and its national initiatives, such as TransFair USA have moved further and further away from the original concept that Fair Trade was necessary to support small producer organizations and help them gain access to the market. Although it was deemed that plantations, which have long dominated international markets, did not need extra support to access these markets, the certifying bodies have steadily and increasingly permitted their products to be certified Fair Trade. The small producers, and their Alternative Trade Organization (ATO) allies, such as Equal Exchange have struggled through the years to keep Fair Trade true to its original mission.
Finally, in April 2011, at the annual meeting of one of the most important coffee conferences, the Specialty Coffee of America Association Conference, in Houston, amidst much fanfare, the CLAC officially launched their new simbolo de los pequenos productores (the small farmer “symbol”/SPP). The CLAC hopes that widespread use of their “simbolo” will enable consumers to distinguish between small farmer and plantation fair trade products. They have begun certifying producer groups throughout Latin America, Asia, and Africa and are now turning to the importers to get their help in building this new system.
Today, several of us from Equal Exchange fly to San Salvador to attend two days of meetings hosted by the CLAC during which we will discuss how to implement the SPP in the United States and other consumer countries.
Stay tuned here for more information as we make progress supporting the first fair trade seal launched by the producers themselves!
Small Farmers. Big Change.