Oxfam America
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October, 18 2004
 10:53 AM
CONTACT:  Oxfam America
Helen DaSilva 617-728-2409 (office) or 617-331-2984 (mobile), hdasilva@oxfamamerica.org
 
Oxfam America Activists Mobilize, Demanding Fair Trade Certified(tm) Coffee at Local Supermarkets
Wild Oats and Ahold USA Lead Pack on Responding to Consumer Demand
 
BOSTON- October 18, 2004 - Today international development agency Oxfam America announced the start of Check Out Fair Trade, the second phase of its coffee campaign. Mobilized activists and supporters will visit their local supermarkets and ask store managers to stock and promote Fair Trade Certified(tm) coffee.

The launch of the campaign comes on the heels of the United States' announcement that it intends to rejoin the International Coffee Organization and Procter & Gamble's announcement that it will roll out a line of Fair Trade Certified(tm) coffee this fall, both successes from the first phase of Oxfam's coffee campaign.

Fair Trade Certified(tm) coffee continues to grow in popularity with consumers. In 2003 alone, it experienced 91 percent market growth. "Savvy grocers will see that carrying Fair Trade Certified(tm) coffee is a smart business decision," said Seth Petchers, Coffee Program Coordinator for Oxfam America. "Providing their customers with a choice -- a range of Fair Trade Certified(tm) items offered on the same shelves as competing products, not relegated to the 'specialty corner' -- is crucial when customers are voting with their wallets."

To date, Fair Trade Certified(tm) coffee is available in over 20,000 retail outlets, including Starbucks and Bruegger's Bagel Bakeries. "In order to catch up with this trend, mainstream supermarkets must go a step beyond carrying Fair Trade Certified(tm) products; they should promote them to their customers," Petchers continued. "We're looking for supermarkets to take Fair Trade to the next level."

Starting today, Check Out Fair Trade campaigners will be grading their local supermarkets on their commitment to Fair Trade Certified(tm) products -- whether or not they carry them, where the products are placed and how much promotion and consumer education is done for Fair Trade. "It's important for consumers to know what the Fair Trade Certified(tm) label means -- for them and for coffee producers," said Shayna Harris, Fair Trade Coffee Organizer for Oxfam America. "Farmers producing Fair Trade Certified(tm) coffee are assured of receiving a living wage for their beans. When small farmers earn enough to invest in their crop, they can produce some of the best-quality coffee in the world. Customers should know that when they see the Fair Trade Certified(tm) label, they are assured of the highest quality product and farmers are assured of a fair deal."

Campaign activities will peak on Nov. 20, during a Day of Action, when activists will be out at supermarkets across the country encouraging consumers to buy Fair Trade Certified(tm) products. For more details on the campaign including a scorecard you can use at your local market, visit: http://www.oxfamamerica.org/coffee_supermarket . Information gathered by campaigners will augment Oxfam's research on leading national supermarket chains and help track supermarket response to Check Out Fair Trade.

During the month of September, Oxfam America surveyed six national supermarket chains. The results show that certain chains have responded to their customers' needs more effectively than others. Wild Oats and Ahold USA, which owns Giant-Carlisle, Giant-Landover, Tops and Stop & Shop, came out on top against their competitors. Both companies provided customers with a range of Fair Trade Certified(tm) coffee. Wild Oats also carries Fair Trade Certified(tm) tea, chocolate and fruit. To see if other national chains made the grade, visit: http://www.oxfamamerica.org/coffee_supermarket . Campaigners will be out in supermarkets through the holidays. Oxfam America is planning a second survey of the same supermarket chains in early 2005 to assess which have best responded to consumer demand.

For more information please contact Helen DaSilva at 617-728-2409 or hdasilva@oxfamamerica.org or visit http://www.oxfamamerica.org/coffee_supermarket .

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An economic and humanitarian calamity triggered by plunging coffee prices and a glut of low-quality product on the coffee market, the "coffee crisis" has ravaged coffee-growing communities in developing countries since 1999. After hitting a 30-year low in 2001, the price of coffee still remains below the cost of production. As a result, millions of families lack basic necessities such as health care, education, and, in some cases, adequate food. Many coffee farmers have been forced to abandon their land and migrate elsewhere in search of employment. Fair Trade certification is a significant part of the solution to the "coffee crisis." Ensuring that coffee farmers get a fair price for their crops will help them to provide for their families, maintain their land and build the infrastructure necessary to continuously produce a high-quality product. Farmer-owned cooperatives receive a minimum of $1.26 per pound for their Fair Trade Certified(tm) coffee, $1.41 if it is Fair Trade Certified(tm) and organic. This increases farmers' incomes significantly, sometimes as much as doubling a family's income from Fair Trade Certified(tm) coffee as compared with conventionally traded coffee.

TransFair USA, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, is the only independent, third-party certifier of Fair Trade practices in the United States. Through regular visits to Fair Trade farmer cooperatives conducted by Fairtrade Labeling Organizations International (FLO), and partnerships with US companies, TransFair verifies that the farmers who produced Fair Trade Certified(tm) products were paid a fair price.

Oxfam America is a Boston-based international development and relief agency and an affiliate of Oxfam International. Working with local partners, Oxfam delivers development programs and emergency relief services, and campaigns for change in global practices and policies that keep people in poverty.

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