Fair Trade USA Announces Coconut Certification Program
These days you don’t need to be on a tropical paradise to enjoy that most iconic of tropical produce: a coconut. From London to New York, coconuts are everywhere. But are they coming from sustainable, socially responsible sources? In response to the rising popularity of the coconut trade, Fair Trade USA has launched a new global certification program for coconut products. The objective is to ensure small-scale coconut farmers and their employees will get a fair deal.
The program aims to rectify the discrepancy between high sales revenue in North America and low income levels among suppliers. Fair Trade USA says 60 percent of coconut farmers in the Philippines live in poverty. In Indonesia, coconut farmers are found among the poorest of the poor. Prices are not favorable to them, either. While a serving of coconut water sells for an average price of $1.50 in the United States, farmers receive only about $0.12-$0.25 per nut. Annual wages can be as low as $72 per year. Cococut plantation are usually mono-crops, which is not good for the environment, results in low crop diversity and can be risky for the farmer.
There’s also an environmental problem with coconut plantations, which are usually grown as mono crops, fostering an environment of low crop diversity that can be detrimental to the environment and risky for the farmer.
Besides putting in place mechanisms to improve farmer’s lives, a program called Fair Trade Community Development Premiums ensures farmers earn at least an additional 10% premium for each coconut sold. These funds are invested in community projects like healthcare, education, agricultural training and business development.
The first Fair Trade Certified coconut products to hit store shelves include Naked Coconut Water (1 liter), available at Whole Foods Market and Safeway; Nutiva Virgin Coconut Oil (15 and 23 oz. glass), available at Whole Foods Market, Safeway and Sprouts; and La Maison Orphée Coconut Oil in the U.S. and Canada. The next products in the line-up are Nutiva’s O’Coconut treats at Whole Foods Market, and Coco Libre Protein Coconut Waters.
Image credit: Fair Trade USA