Fair Trade Speech
Good afternoon everyone. Imagine a world without poverty, where revenues are equally distributed, and the entire population receives sufficient payment for their production contribution. All this is possible if we all joined and supported the fair-trade movement. In case you are wondering, the fair-trade movement is a practical association that exists in plain sight without receiving much recognition from society. When you think of the chocolate we eat, the coffee we drink, and the soap we use, brand names are the first thing that comes to mind. However, if you take a stroll down the aisle of a large retail store monitoring the product shelves closely, there is a good chance you will notice some items with the label “fair trade” on their packaging. In this persuasive speech, I would like to urge everyone to intentionally look for the “fair trade” label the next you are shopping at a supermarket instead of searching for brand names so that we can help the fair-trade movement distribute revenues to the rightful recipients.
Today, many workers around the world are receiving minute pay to produce goods that are frequently consumed. The disparity in revenue distribution has existed for a long time since intermediaries and large companies retain most of the profits from selling products. Wang and Chen (2019), revealed in the journal of retailing and consumer services that fair-trade has measurable effects on just payments. Naturally, workers toil under challenging conditions to generate the raw materials for products they are underpaid to produce. Take the latte we drink in the U.S. for about $3; the workers who labored on the coffee beans receive $0.02 from the cash you pay the retailer. According to a research by Hillson and colleagues in 2018, Nestle, the world’s largest food producer with about 6000 products on supermarket shelves, only has one fair trade product, the KitKat chocolate bars. As a result of the absence of the fair-trade policy on most of Nestle’s products, the laborers who toil in the cocoa farms of the Ivory Coast rarely receive appropriate benefits from the sale of these products. In a system where workers receive the least benefits from the sale of commodities they helped produce, how can we hope to overcome poverty? How can we start eliminating the disparity in income earned from trade?
The answer is by adopting fair trade policies on all goods sold in the world. We unintentionally contribute to a system designed to enrich a few people in large companies and exploit workers at the bottom end of production. Imagine being the worker with the most challenging role in the production, yet you receive the lowest benefit from selling products. A 2019 study conducted by Konuk in the Food International Research journal affirms that conscious consumers have the power to change the disproportionate system used to distribute revenues to the laborers after production. Instead of purchasing goods that only serve the multinational companies and the middlemen, try looking for products with the “fair trade” label. Every time you purchase a consumer good with the fair-trade label, you contribute to the even distribution of revenue to the laborers at the far end of production. We, as consumers, have the power to increase the benefit of workers around the world. All multinational companies want their goods sold in the largest consumer markets, such as the United States, China, and India. Thus, by purchasing products with a fair-trade label and rejecting those without, we support the fair-trade movement, ensuring that revenues are evenly distributed to the workers. The prices we pay for fair-trade goods go directly to the workers and help eliminate laborers’ exploitation around the world. The next time you are out shopping for clothes, coffee, tea, chocolate, fruits, or even soap, make sure you look for the fair-trade label. Thank you.
Hillson, G., Gillani, A., & Kutaula, S. (2018). Towards sustainable pro-poor development? A critical assessment of fair trade gold. Journal of Cleaner Production, 186, 894-904.
Konuk, F. A. (2019). Consumers’ willingness to buy and willingness to pay for fair trade food: The influence of consciousness for fair consumption, environmental concern, trust and innovativeness. Food Research International, 120, 141-147.
Wang, E. S. T., & Chen, Y. C. (2019). Effects of perceived justice of fair-trade organizations on consumers’ purchase intention toward fair trade products. Journal of Retailing and Consumer Services, 50, 66-72.
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