Pact Coffee say they are "Not Fairtrade and proud."
This is an interesting article from Pact Coffee about why they've decided Fairtrade certification is not for them. As you can see from the comments below the article the reality may not be quite as cute and fluffy as Pact are claiming.
A couple of quick caveats - firstly, I really like Pact as a company. I think their approach, with a focus on quality, is admirable, and having had a trial of the coffee I think it's great. Secondly, as we've said right from the start at Eighteen Rabbit, we are not ideologically wedded to Fairtrade certification - for most of the craft items we stock it would be impossible to get certification anyway. And we all know that certification can be used as a fig leaf on occasions - it's all very well to have Fairtrade Kit-Kats, but it's not the be all and end all.
Bearing all that in mind however, it is disappointing that a coffee manufacturer is trying to tell us that Fairtrade is superfluous to requirements, when coffee is one of the flagship commodities for Fairtrade. It may confuse consumers ("If that one isn't Fairtrade and it's okay, are the rest of them okay too?"), but perhaps more importantly it seems to ignore the whole point of certification, and the ideals behind Fairtrade. It's not just about fair wages, it's also about paying a social premium to invest in local communities and support their development. Pact may say they're paying farmers more than market value for their crop, but without external verification it's nigh on impossible to say whether that is reaching the workers at the bottom of the chain, or simply making rich farm owners even richer.
Fairtrade isn't perfect - and we've said before that it needs to adapt or face problems. But if a coffee company is saying that Fairtrade isn't necessary, then it's time to draw a line in the sand and say that they've got it wrong.