It was during the 2nd World War when religious organizations across Europe began to advocate Fair Trade as a form of charity. As time went by the movement radically transformed its approach, principles and perspectives. Today the proponents, products and distribution markets for fair trade have been widely revolutionised and diversified.
Alternative Trading Organizations (ATOs) emerged after World War II took its toll in the world. The ATOs are composed of morally-driven businesses that patronise the rules and principles set by Fair Trade. Through them, farmers can directly transact their products for a just price and in this manner local and small scale farmers are given opportunities to improve their lives.
Apart from the ATOs, the first organisations that developed fair trade supply chains in developing countries were the Mennoite Central Committee (1946) and the SERRV International (1949). The fair trade products sold by volunteers in “charity stores” were mostly handicrafts like jut goods and cross-stitches. The goods were merely considered as a donation and nothing more. But during the late 1980s, novelty products certified as fair trade slowly declined in popularity and so the ATOs began to reconstruct their business strategies. It was then that fair trade supporters noticed the impact of the plummeting agricultural prices to the poor farmers and growers.
The movement saw its responsibility in addressing and remedying this crisis which in turn would contribute to the growth of the ATO and farmers. After the unsuccessful International coffee agreement, the growth of the fair trade coffee industry significantly increased. Coffee and tea became one of the first fair trade agricultural products in the market and the fuel to development of fair trade. Other products like cocoa, sugar, fruit juices, spices, nuts, rice and fruits eventually followed to become certified fair trade products.
At present, many governments have seen how the movement can make a huge difference and so they have added their support to the fair trade industry. Annually a World Fair Trade day is celebrated every second week in May to increase awareness and educate the public of the options and benefits that fair trade offers. Although this movement may have not been successful to some people, it has nonetheless contributed significantly to the welfare of primary producers in developing nations across the world. It has truly made a positive impact in the lives of the impoverished farmers making them more competitive and dignified in the market in which they participate.