Fairtrade is responding to COVID-19

Now, more than ever, we must remember our humanity and support one another, especially the most vulnerable members of society.

Across the globe, each of us has been touched by the COVID-19 pandemic. First and foremost, this crisis is a global humanitarian challenge.

Impact on farmers and workers in developing countries

Fairtrade continues to do our work to advocate and support disadvantaged small-scale farmers and workers in developing countries. The farmers and workers Fairtrade serves are already among the world’s poorest people, living in communities with weak or non-existent safety nets, meaning that any loss of livelihoods will be felt all the more keenly and be a risk to their very survival.

We are gathering updates from around the world about how COVID-19 is affecting producer organisations, family farmers, and workers. We will continue to update this page as we receive more information.

Regular global Fairtrade news stories will also be posted on Fairtrade International’s website here.

As farmers and workers face uncertainties due to the pandemic, we remain committed to ensuring they are able to secure their livelihoods while building resilience in supply chains

Dario Soto Abril — CEO of Fairtrade International

What we are doing to support farmers and workers

Fairtrade is working with the producer networks on an ongoing basis to take action to support farmers and workers in developing countries.
Flexibility in Fairtrade Premium

Fairtrade International announced increased flexibility in its standards to enable producer organisations to take immediate action to protect the health and livelihoods of farmers, workers and their communities in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Changes in audit procedures

Fairtrade’s independent certifier, FLOCERT, has amended their audit procedures to help minimise physical interactions. All physical audits have been paused until April 22, 2020, which includes existing certified producers as well as new applicants.

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Fairtrade CEO Letter to G20 Leaders

Fairtrade CEOs have sent a joint letter to leaders of the G20 calling for an effective coordinated response to the impact of COVID-19 on developing country farmers and workers. Fairtrade urged G20 leaders to push for a comprehensive response to the crisis, including ensuring that the response helps global food supply chains become more sustainable and climate resilient.

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Update on key Fairtrade product sectors

Coffee
Although Fairtrade coffee sales have remained strong so far thanks to retail sales, global coffee prices are highly volatile right now, due to uncertainty in the commodities markets. This puts producers in extreme uncertainty and threatens their livelihoods. In several high-volume producing regions, such as Honduras and Peru, the movement has been severely restricted, which will impact the harvesting, transport and milling of coffees.
Tea
There has been a sharp decline in demand and price for tea from certain origins. Some of the major tea buying auctions have been suspended or postponed. The three-week lockdown in India disrupted the first-flush harvest and is preventing the essential maintenance of tea bushes. African tea origins have also been adversely affected by the drop in market demand and port restrictions. Tea workers, who often live in poverty, are especially vulnerable.
Cocoa
Harvests are taking place in Central/South America and the Caribbean, but are impacted by movement restrictions and logistical challenges. For the Ivory Coast, a new Fairtrade Minimum Price of US$212.14/mt was announced this week for deliveries from April 1- September 30, 2020. Producers are working to ensure that all committed quantities can be exported, although there are some delays expected at ports in Ghana.
Cotton and textiles
The drop in retail sector sales has resulted in a sharp decline in demand and price for cotton. While most Fairtrade cotton has been harvested, all ginning units and spinning mills are closed, which means there is a financial risk for farmers if the market opens at a lower price. Land preparation and cotton sowing for the next season is expected to be affected by delays in seed distribution.
Bananas
Demand for bananas has remained strong thus far. Farms are taking necessary measures for increased sanitisation, equipment, barriers between workers, and providing extra transport for workers. Activities on banana farms continue, but with reduced staff to lower the risk of virus transmission. However, we expect production costs for the banana producers will increase as they take additional sanitary measures to protect against the virus.

What you can do to support farmers, workers and businesses

We have all felt the impact of COVID-19, whether through job insecurity, financial strain, health challenges or the impacts of isolation on our mental health. First and foremost, take care of your loved ones, your community and yourself.

We invite you to stand together with farmers and workers who provide the essential service of feeding and clothing our communities, and the businesses that deliver these products to us.

SHOP FAIRTRADE.

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