Monday, May 29, 2006

Fair Trade

Yesterday I bought some "Trade Aid" Dark Chocolate. It is marketed as being organic and fair trade. It was $5.80 for a 200 gram block. I bought it because on the weekend I got the 50g version and suddenly discovered it wasn't half bad and it had a reasonable price. At Trade Aid shops those ones cost $1.90 which is equivalent to a service station price for non-fair trade chocolate.

For me, organic products are one of the higher criteria for buying. My desire for organics is greater than my desire for vegetarianism, and my desire for vegetarianism is far more than my desire for fair trade. Only financial constraints and transport stop me from buying more organics.

Fair trade is yet to logically filter through with me. With my rudimentary knowledge of economics, if you split a market taking all the buyers who would be happy to buy something for a higher price, and also remove the sellers who'd prefer to sell it at a higher price, you make the price crash. That means non fair trade chocolate, regardless of its origin, suffers a drop in price. Though this may 'punish' those who use slavery to produce their goods it also harms many farms which are not selling their cocoa/coffee through fair trade channels but are ethically fine. Ideally this would lead a trend towards all sellers moving toward getting registered as fair trade, as it means a higher premium, isolating the non-ethically produced cocoa. But this would also mean a higher price, lower demand, lower production so fewer sellers benefiting from the trade (as you get with higher prices).

And there is always a market for cheap cocoa. The rogue sellers who use slavery will always have a market because cheap goods always sell.

Anyway, I'm happy with my premium Dark Chocolate as it is delicious foremost, and organic secondly. Yum.

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