Fair Trade in the Czech Republic

A look at the local sector & some shops where you can buy fair trade products
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Photo: Mamacoffee
Photo: Mamacoffee

Those involved in the fair trade process are:

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  • Producer organizations (PO)

The fair trade process starts with producer organizations, which are usually groups of small-scale farmers such as coffee growers. To be certified as fair trade POs, the producers must meet certain criteria, such as labor standards and sustainable farming.

  • Buyers

On the buyer side, companies buying from Fairtrade certified POs must also adhere to strict standards, which focus on the terms and conditions, especially pricing. When buying products from the PO, the buyers must pay at least the “fair trade minimum price”, which enables the PO to obtain a price covering the cost of sustainable development of the product. If the market price is higher, the market price can be paid.

  • Consumers

When fairly trade products reach retailers, they are identified by the international fair-trade certification mark, a black, blue and green logo on the packaging. The logo signifies to consumers that the product meets internationally agreed fair trade standards and that the producer is getting a fair deal.

  • The Fair Trade Mark – FTI and FLO

Responsibility for awarding the FAIRTRADE Mark lies with, which are members of FTI. FTI or the FLO licenses firms to use the Mark on specific products that have been certified as complying with international Fairtrade Standards. All members of the product supply chain must be registered by one of the FLO or by FTI.

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Fair Trade in the Czech Republic

Criticisms

Inevitably, given the strong political dimension and the questioning of conventional trading systems, fair trade has its detractors. Critics on the right argue that it distorts the market among other things; some left-wing groups argue it does not go far enough in challenging the established trade system. Another criticism, from all sides, is that often products claim to be fairly traded when they are not, raising questions about monitoring and standards.

The fair trade movement in the Czech Republic

In the Czech Republic, the fair trade movement has developed more recently, after 1989. In 1994, the Jeden svět shop opened, the country’s first charity shop, and later on, it started to sell fair trade products.

In 2003, organizations started forming, such as the Společnost pro Fair Trade, now known as NaZemi – společnost pro fair trade), and Ekumenická akademie Praha. A year later, Czech fair trade organisations joined together forming the Asociace pro fair trade (Czech Fair Trade Association, CFTA), the first FLO in Central and Eastern Europe. And in 2009, the Asociace pro fair trade joined forces with the other FLO worldwide.

The CFTA plays a central role in fair trade in the Czech Republic. While the Bonn-based FTI licenses the fair trade logo on products, the CFTA is responsible for marketing and promoting fair trade.

Fair trade is becoming increasingly important and mainstream in the Czech Republic, although price remains an issue. “We expect that with larger turnover, fair trade goods will become more attractively-priced, although in view of the way fair trade works, they won’t become ’low price’ products,” says Kateřina Chejlaková of Mikokava, a company selling fair trade coffee.

In 2011 the Fairtrade town project was launched in the Czech Republic. Under it, towns that meet 5 criteria that support fair trade have the right to call themselves Fair Trade Towns. They are Litoměřice in north Bohemia and Vsetín in south Moravia.

Photo: Dobra-koupe.cz
Photo: Dobra-koupe.cz

Where to find fair trade products in the Czech Republic

Inevitably, Prague has the largest selection of fair trade outlets in the Czech Republic, and they are located across the city. Fair trade products are often very well represented in health food shops, and interestingly, you’ll find a particular concentration of such establishments in Karlín.

More and more “mainstream“ shops, restaurants and cafes are stocking fair trade products too. A useful place to start can be found on the NaZemi website, which has a comprehensive list of fair trade shops throughout the Czech Republic:

Two examples of fair trade entrepreneurs in the Czech Republic are Mamacoffee and Manumade:

Mamacoffee 

Mamacoffee specializes in Ethiopian coffee but also serves a wide range of coffee, and tea, from other countries. Customers can buy these products directly at the Mamacoffee coffee shops as well as online. In addition, the coffee shops stock chocolate and a small range of gifts.

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Mamacoffee in Prague's Vodičkova Street
Mamacoffee in Prague’s Vodičkova Street

Manumade – fair trade furniture
As well as foodstuffs, the fair trade concept also applies to manufacturers, such as furniture makers. Specializing in this area is Manumade, founded by entrepreneur Jan Výskovský and focusing on producing and supplying teak and mahogany furniture. Manumade also stresses the importance of workshops in developing countries. “Our company wants to promote specific stories of producers while promoting fair trade, so that it becomes the norm in the future,” says Jan Výskovský.

Na Zemi Fair Trade Shop
Na Zemi Fair Trade Shop

Fair trade online
If you don’t have easy access to a fair trade shop or a restaurant/café selling fair trade products, you can buy them online, a trend which is picking up in the Czech Republic and elsewhere. And it’s not just the standard staples such as tea or coffee that are available online. Other products, such as clothes, can be bought online at websites such as www.fairobchod.cz

Where do you buy fair trade goods in Prague?


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