Consumables:  Sugar

Sugar is a billion dollar market but it can be very difficult for farmers to get their product into the market in order to make a living. This is a two fold issue. Firstly, all of the sugar exported from Africa comes from sugar cane and the only way to turn the cane into sugar is through sugar mills. Farmers are at the mercy of the prices the mills set meaning they can suffer if they are not paid fairly. Secondly, EU and US markets favour their own sugar beet meaning that less African as well as ACP sugar is sold.

“The price that smallholder farmers receive for cane can fail to cover the costs they incur to produce it, leaving them in a debt trap and with little capital to reinvest in farms. This affects the entire community, as sugar cane farmers often rely heavily on their families for help, limiting people’s opportunities for education and perpetuating the cycle of poverty.”

The Fairtrade Foundation

Buying Fairtrade certified sugar makes a significant impact on farmers, their families and communities. There is no minimum price set for Fairtrade sugar because of the complicated nature of pricing it. However, Fairtrade Premium at $60 per tonne of sugar ($80 per tonne for certified organic sugar) is guaranteed in addition to the price negotiated between producers and traders.

Currently, less than 1% of sugar is Fairtrade, as a consumer you can change this by demanding better from large brands and by investing your spending power in companies who are committed to using Fairtrade sugar. You can do this for plain sugar or any products in which sugar is an ingredient. The Fairtrade Sugar Program (link) enables farmers to work with these companies.

Future changes to EU legislation in 2017 will  present challenges for small holders so supporting them through Fairtrade will become even more important.