Is there a difference between Equal Exchange's fair trade program, and that of other companies?

Yes.

  • At Equal Exchange 100% of our products are fairly traded. Other firms' Fair Trade food and beverage sales usually constitute only a small percentage of the total, and often consist of no more than a single product. In such cases Fair Trade products are an "add-on" to a much larger conventional food or beverage operation.
  • We helped launch the Fair Trade coffee market in the United States back in 1991, and remained the only firm using this model until 1998.
  • Despite the subsequent entry of 350+ competitors into the Fair Trade coffee market, including billion dollar firms, Equal Exchange remains a leader in Fair Trade sales volume. In 2004, we imported over 3.69 million pounds of green coffee.
  • Equal Exchange has had a pre-harvest financing program for our co-op suppliers since 1996. Pre-harvest financing provides farmer co-operatives with financial credit when they need it most, at harvest time when the cooperative is competing with local middlemen for coffee deliveries.
  • As a worker cooperative Equal Exchange operates in the same democratic, equitable, and transparent manner that the fair trade certification system requires of the coffee farmers. Conventional companies are not required to - and do not - operate in accordance with these fair trade principles.