Glee Gum is proud to make the world’s first Fairtrade Certified gum. In celebration of World Fair Trade Day (May 9th!), we are delighted to share a guest blog from our friends at Fairtrade America. Fairtrade America is the official U.S. representative of Fairtrade International, the non-profit organization that champions a fair deal for farmers and workers.
Glee Gum, Fairtrade and farmers – how your sweet treats change lives
What do you know about sugar, sugar cane farmers and Fairtrade? The facts might surprise you – choosing gum, ice cream and other treats made with Fairtrade sugar makes a big difference to farmers all over the world.
A farmer harvests sugar cane by hand at the Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association. Photo credits: Monika Berresheim
What do you know about sugar?
Around 80 percent of the world’s sugar is derived from sugar cane, a bamboo-like grass that can grow to 20 feet tall. The other 20 percent is derived from sugar beets. While sugar beets are mostly grown in temperate zones in the North, sugar cane is grown largely in tropical climates by millions of small-scale farmers and plantation workers.
Why do sugar cane farmers need support?
The global sugar industry is vast and complex. Smallholder farmers often struggle to get a price that covers the costs of production, leaving them trapped in debt. The plight of individual farmers 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.
Did you know? Glee Gum’s commitment to Fairtrade sugar benefits farmers in Belize. About 15 percent of Belize’s population works in the sugar industry.
How does Fairtrade help sugar cane producers?
Fairtrade has certified 100 farmers’ organizations representing 62,200 smallholder cane farmers. Through Fairtrade certification, sugar cane farmers get improved access to international markets and support to develop the necessary business skills and technical capacity to be more competitive in the global market.
Fairtrade farmer organizations also receive the Fairtrade Premium, which goes into a communal bank account that producers democratically vote on how to spend. It’s one of the ways Fairtrade makes a real difference – farmers and workers decide how to improve their business and their communities.
Click for more Fairtrade sugar stats.
In 2012-2013, just shy of $11 million in Fairtrade Premium was paid to Fairtrade sugar cane producers worldwide. Farmer organizations invested 41 percent of the Premium in direct support to farming families. This included access to agricultural training, new tools and in-kind support and cash payments to help with living costs and needs.
Alberto Catch, 22, from Xaibé, cuts sugar cane at the plot of local Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association member Leocadio Hoy. Photo credits: James A Rodriguez
How has Glee Gum made a difference?
In Belize, the impact has been transformational on three levels – social, economic and environmental.
Social - Fairtrade Standards have ensured that the farmers’ associations function democratically and represents thousands of members. The Belize Sugar Farmers’ Association (BSCFA) has invested the Fairtrade Premium in school scholarships, grants for school repairs and improvements, funding for youth groups, women’s groups, a community library and other projects that are strengthening farmers’ communities.
A student smiles during class. The Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association donates educational materials to numerous schools paid with the Fairtrade Premium. Photo credits: James A Rodriguez
Economic – BSCFA has invested the Fairtrade Premium in a Quality Improvement Program that’s boosted production, resulting in an increase in the cane price received by farmers.
Environmental – Producers in Belize have conducted a comprehensive soil analysis to map the needs of the different soils and target fertilizer use more accurately, increasing productivity and reducing costs. They have also implemented programs that are increasing the use of biological pest controls, thereby reducing the need for chemical pesticides.
“Fairtrade is like a door to a great opportunity within our community. Investment in the range of projects in the technical support program is helping the cane farmers produce a higher quantity and quality of sugar cane with a positive impact on the incomes of producers. Through the social program, Fairtrade can help us promote education and build schools, health centers, clinics and much more.” -- Alfredo Ortega, member of a Fairtrade cooperative in Belize
Watch this video for a look at Fairtrade’s impact in Belize.
What can you do?
Choose Fairtrade! Look for Fairtrade products like delicious Glee Gum the next time you shop. You’ll know a Fairtrade product because it will have this Mark.
Read more about Fairtrade.
Read more about Glee Gum and Fairtrade.