The Gap between 1% and 99%
The Gap between 1% and 99%
  • Kim Seol-won, Bae A-rang
  • 승인 2009.11.11 11:19
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Coffee conquering the world and the hidden side of a cup of coffee

Do you understand the meaning of “the gap between 1% and 99%”? It means, in terms of coffee, that one percent of profits is for coffee-cultivating farmers in a small scale and 99% of profits are for the huge coffee companies of America, the retailers and the distributors. This is the reality of the clear trade imbalance showed through coffee trade.
We owe many people around world a great deal. Considerable numbers of them are very poor people. Also, they are people producing the basic products we have used in our daily lives. But, how much is the payment for their hard labor? Treatment for them is so poor. When we think rationally, we don’t consider it as being fair treatment.
We have to feel rather uncomfortable buying coffee for over 3500 won in café. Actually, how much money do coffee-makers earn from a café? We must think about them and accept the duty of considering fair trade to reduce the gap of 1% to 99%.
Have you ever heard about “fair trade”, which supports producers’ lives by paying a fair price for purchasing goods? If you have never heard it, you must know about “fair trade” to make yourself a more responsible and ethical consumer.

▶What is “fair trade”?
Fair trade is a direct dealing way of trade based on truth and respect between producer and purchaser. It has supported the third world in being financially independent by providing the opportunity for economic activity first and then purchasing products at the fair price under fair trade.
Fair trade is different from common trade. If we buy fair trade products, poor people from all around world will obtain benefits. Through fair trade, producers in poor countries can get fair rewards.
Fair and stable prices are assigned to their products and laborers receive a fair labor cost. And, if they are getting excess profits, they usually reinvest them into their businesses and communities. Buying fair trade products is a real, practical way to make a more generous world and can help to overcome poverty.
There is an obvious reason to use fair trade. Until now, the main international trade system has never solved the world’s poverty. The poor cannot live with us only chattering all at the same time. The fair trade system can provide them with profits. The greatest merit of fair trade is that it is for the poor. Fair trade is a practical alternative plan.
The products produced under fair trade have huge potential markets. Fair trade improves unfair trade by influencing the world trade system and helps the third world to escape poverty.

▶What is the background of the fair trade?
The recent trade structure has deepened the polarization between developed countries and underdeveloped countries. There are unfair elements, such as selling materials, products and labor in the undeveloped countries at a dirt-cheap price by negotiating in a way that is only profitable to one side.
Eventually, the profits of trade are not evenly distributed to the producer, buyer, distributor and consumer, and a vicious circle repeats in which third world producers keep suffering from poverty.
In this situation, the alternative, new trade is fair trade, which can help the third world people to support themselves. Fair trade has tried to make their lives ethical and sustainable by providing a wage and fair labor conditions, giving education and jobs to the neglected class, and producing products in an environmentally friendly way.

▶Instances overseas
In the case of Europe, fair trade in Switzerland, the Netherlands and Germany are definitely on the increase. There are 1,200 products being developed, so you can always buy fair trade goods at any store without any difficulty.
Tesco, which is a chain supermarket in England, now sells fair trade goods after requests from citizens.
In other words, fair trade has become a vital part of citizens’ everyday lives.
From the statistics of Fair trade Labeling Organization on fair trade, 86 percent of English people know about fair trade and many citizens support fair trade; 64 percent of Swedish people, 62 percent of people from the Netherlands and 68 percent of Belgians prefer fair trade goods. From this, we can know that fair trade is making great progress in the world.

Oxfam in England, which is an international fair trade organization, conducts a campaign and raises fund for fair trade as well as promoting the rights of the poor and eradicating AIDS through forums and conferences of the EU, IMF and WTO. Its long-term project focuses on the development of the poor. It also does emergency rescue activities, policy research for the poor and campaign activities.
Also, IFAT (International Federal Associated Trade), in the Netherlands, is fair trade federation which has a network of global fair trade organizations. Its activities aim to improve the life of third world nations through marketing development, increasing experience and specialty, and encouragement of education in local communities.
Japan also has an FLO that spreads fair trade labels, intermediates between traders and sellers, makes licensing contracts about using labels between coordinators and dealers, and takes responsibility for labeling in other Asian nations, including Thailand, Korea, or others. Also in Japan, fair trade group Nepali Bazaro opened stores and has been selling 500 kinds of fair trade items in Yokohama since 1998.

▶Instances in Korea
The most popular case of Korean fair trade is “The Beautiful Store”. Unfortunately, the amount of people who cared about fair trade was not so high, and consumers also thought that the products produced through fair trade would be expensive. So, only people who had the right knowledge of fair trade used this store.
But nowadays, Korea imports and sells Nepalese tea products and chocolates. In addition, thanks to public images of “The Beautiful Store”, the coffee there is becoming popular in the Korean coffee market without the FLO mark, which is the international standard.
There are other organizations besides “The Beautiful Store”. We can also notice YMCA’s “Peace Coffee”, which is associated with East Timor's coffee company, and APnet Trade Company, which imports and sells Filipino sugar and Palestinian olive oil through its association with a Japanese alternative trading company. In addition, Fair Trade Korea imports and sells clothes, dairy products, spices and so on through the Japanese fair trade company Nepali Bazaro.
Despite all this, Korean fair trade is really insufficient because of the lack of understanding and preparation of autonomous and institutional supports.

We visited MoMo's Garden, a café offering fair trade products, which is located in front of the old gate of the school. There are many hand-made items like menus and notices, and we could see many pictures of people in undeveloped countries in the entrance and the inside. With curiosity, we started an interview with an owner.

1. Why did you open a fair trade café?
“Actually, when we hear the words “fair trade”, we usually imagine coffee or chocolate. Those items are the most popular. But objects of craftwork made in underdeveloped countries are also fair trade items. Actually, I am a potter. If seen by people in developed countries, I am not different from the producers in the third world. So I investigated free trade products and opened this cafe. The most popular item of fair trade here is coffee.”

2. How popular are products of fair trade in Jeonju?
“I think just a little bit. At first, I guessed that students of CBNU were interested in fair trade. But it is not true. Most of the people don't know about fair trade, or maybe even they don't want to know.”

3. Did you have any problems or difficulty?
“I felt something great was missing because many people don’t know about fair trade. Well, if university students might have had interest, they really don’t.”

4. Is there anything special changing about consumers?
“Lots of students say that the purpose of fair trade coffee is good, and some people are interested in fair trade and want to know about it.”

5. Do you have any advantages or benefits from the selling of fair trade coffee?
“Umm… a simple satisfaction through introducing fair trade. It’s a kind of self-satisfaction: I do something good without special sacrifice.”

6. Are fair trade coffee beans more expensive than others?
“Never. For example, major companies import coffee beans for one thousand won, and they offer them to customers at a cost of ten thousand won. But coffee beans under fair trade are imported for eight or nine thousand won. And they still sold at ten thousand won to customers. There is no price difference in coffee beans, but I have to buy and roast unprocessed coffee beans. It is troublesome, but it can be good for consumers. We can offer consumers fresher coffee. And fair trade coffee is organic food.”

7. Does this cafe have any special points?
“There are hand-made items. I take care of the hand-made items. There are many coffee shops near the university that are opening now. But this cafe has humanitarianism.”

8. Could you express “fair trade coffee” in a short word?
“Fair trade is also known as “Hope Trade”. I like to say hope trade because we can give hope to producers.”

9. Could you say your goal and your message to CBNU students?
“I have no grand goal. I am just satisfied that people are getting to know about fair trade. And some person wants to open a fair trade café because of me. It is very worthy.
One final word I want to say is that more CBNU students have interest and love about fair trade. But I believe time will solve everything.”

Interview on the ‘Beautiful Store’.

With Choe Cheol-yong, manager of the ‘Beautiful Store’ located in Inhu-dong(인후동), Jeonju.

1. When did you start this store and what is the object and value?

- “This ‘Beautiful Store’ has been here for four years. It was moved from Seoseohak-dong(서서학동) to Inhu-dong. The goal and value of ‘Beautiful Store’ is all the same nationwide. It hopes that profits through recycling of resources will be evenly distributed to the society and the culture of donation and sharing will settle in. It has played a role as a local foothold for sharing culture.”

2. I wonder when ‘Beautiful Store’ became interested in fair trade. Also, what kind of products are you selling in this store, and which one is the best seller?

- “It has been interested in fair trade since one or two years ago. Gradually, fair trade seems to have drawn attention and many activities related to fair trade will be done from here forward.
The best product among our fair trade products is a fair trade coffee. All fair trade coffee in the ‘Beautiful Store’ has made it through the coffee trade headquarters team. Coffee made in Nepal had been distributed in the beginning, and now, coffees made in Peru and Kilimanjaro have become available domestically. Other various products such as chocolate, black tea and cookies have been sold in the Seoul branch. But, this store in Jeonju sells only fair trade coffee because of local characteristics.”

3. How many people have purchased fair trade coffee, and how were their responses?

- “There were not many people. The main customers have been young people, and their responses were very good. This coffee is from organic farming, and the taste is quite clear. But, we had difficulty in securing more customers because the store was located in a small town.”

4. What is the future plan for ‘Beautiful Store’?

- “There are many cafés dealing with fair trade coffee in universities around the capital area. There is not only fair trade coffee but also various products related to fair trade in these cafés. The price of fair trade coffee is much cheaper than that of other coffee shops. We are pushing ahead with fair trade coffee projects in the long term.”

5. What do you feel while working as a manager of ‘Beautiful Store’?

- “I feel proud when not only selling many products but also proceeding with a program related to our region. It is attractive for me to look for difficult things and plan voluntarily. But, it takes responsibility. I have had a wonderful time everyday.”

6. What would you like to say to the CBNU students?
- “I think that volunteering experience in an NGO would be quite beneficial when you are a university student. It can provide you with a variety of experience and opportunities. I hope you have an active mind volunteering in NGOs. And please keep producers in the third world in your mind before you consume foods such as coffee. Vitalization of fair trade is the object we all must seek together.”

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