I have recently seen a lot of tweets and comments on articles referring to quality control issues with some Fair Trade goods , particularly coffee. Before I bought a very bad bag of ground coffee from a big box store, I hadn’t had much buy-in to the debate. The flavor at the local grocery store was no better than a bottom of the barrel can of bold, freeze-dried coffee that one might find in a generic can.Do you want to learn more? Visit Quality Control Labels

This really wasn’t a big deal for me, as I am generally quite pleasantly surprised by the quality of fair trade coffee. It made me think, however, of a point raised in a 2011 article in Colleen Haight’s Stanford Social Review entitled, “The Problem with Fair Trade Coffee.” Among other valid criticisms, the writer pointed out that some growers could supply fair trade buyers with lesser quality beans, reserving the very best beans to earn gourmet prices, thus ensuring top dollar earnings in both tranches The writer neglected to note that, as a result of customer reviews, fair trade certified coffees under various labels have increased their quality levels in recent years.

In fact, there is now a sustained trend to market Fair Trade coffee in the highest gourmet coffee classes; and from what I can say at least, Fair Trade coffee maintains these and any other higher standards. The real question may be this: how well the marketers understand, interact with, and disclose their coffee beans sources. If the company marketing the fair trade coffee takes a hands-off approach to their source stream their customers are more likely to be disappointed by hit or mistake, or simply poor quality consistently. But if growers are aware of the quality criteria they are more likely to attempt to follow these expectations in order to receive the higher bean pay. In addition, marketers need to be willing to show their consumers why paying a little extra for the coffee is both important and efficient for the consumers. They need to show how growers and their communities are using the extra money for positive gains.

Such transparency is essential for all types of marketing which is ethically focused. Fair trade apparel is one arena where the need for transparency will turn out to be very difficult. One problem is that the world of wholesale clothing is especially vicious and chancesy. If a Fair Trade clothing label releases too much about its sources, other, more predatory producers might try to lure workers away from their cooperatives, producing the same items as the cooperative without any constraints on giving back to the community.