Thanks @Chris_R - I noticed that fact while posting. As an FYI, here’s the link to the official SOAS response.
Yes, the coverage of late has made it pretty difficult. In all honesty, the SOAS report had good information - it was just unfortunate the way it was presented. While the research focused on casual laborers, it came out as if Fairtrade was failing all producers. Regarding labour on small farms and casual workers, it is an issue to be addressed, and it is being worked on. New work on living wages will give us and others good tools to use, plus we recently announced work on how Fairtrade can better benefit workers on small-scale farms.
But it is a step-by-step process. We’ve come a long way and there’s a long way to go. Check out our website Latest News section for these as I still can’t add more links.
The Arte documentary was interesting - it first aired last year and we did a full briefing about it here. There’s a lot more to say, but those links should give you enough background. Specifically regarding workers on farms and plantations in Haiti - it’s not as clearcut as he presented it in the film - there are governmental issues at play as well (we have some stories about this on our website if you do a search for ‘Haiti’). And the final example he showed in the documentary wasn’t actually a Fairtrade certified farm.
To @Madde’s comment on how money is spread through the system, setting up a certification system is no small task. Creating the standards and working to get international agreement, surveying and checking prices, generating interest and educating the general public, addressing the continuing challenges to make sure Fairtrade adapts and improves - these are all important to our mission.
You can see in our Annual Reports the income and expenses at Fairtrade International and how it’s distributed (next one being released 2 Sept). We create the Standards and our certifier FLOCERT handles the auditing. It is a robust system, but there is no system that could guarantee with absolute certainty 100% of the time that there are no issues at origin (which is why our allegations procedure is so important - it helps flag problems).
And regarding coffee as the main subject - there are different realities for every product, which is one of the reasons we have different standards for each product instead of just one generic standard. In coffee, it’s mostly produced by smallholders. It is an extremely volatile market (Just watch the NY ICE - which a lot of companies use as the indicator for pricing - sometime to understand the kind of uncertainty coffee farmers live with everyday - it’s not about high or low prices, it’s the speed at which it changes). But coffee is where Fairtrade began, so I think people tend to focus on that. In other products, we face different challenges.
All of that aside, we do have good news to share, check out the latest monitoring/impact report that highlights the who, what, where, how of Fairtrade around the world, along with a overviews of impact reports with the good news and the challenges to be faced yet. You can also check out our Slideshare page, which has more digestible bits of information from that report slideshare.net/fairtrade.
(PS I wrote this response a while back, but seems I still can’t post more than one link)