Fair TradeSmall growers


Holland, 1988: a delegation of Mexican Indians and a missionary made a business offer to the Europeans: how about we apply fair trade!


How it works
Application of a guaranteed price for harvests, irrespective of falling coffee prices decided by traders. According of a fair trade bonus for the independent development of local infrastructures and a bonus to encourage organic farming.

Why we need Fair Trade
In the 1980s, the deregulation of international trading left millions of small growers in a precarious position. Liberalisation brought in new actors, some of whose methods were less than scrupulous.

The actors involved

  • The growers, united in the form of democratic cooperatives. They refused poverty, depopulation and restricted access to health and education.
  • Father Francisco Van der Hoff, a Dutch missionary living in Mexico. He considered new market conditions with these growers. He founded the Max Havelaar label.
  • Roasters. These actors purchase harvests directly, often at a price above market price, and develop modern distribution circuits to optimise sales.
  • Consumers in northern countries who make the simple decision to purchase their coffee at a slightly higher price to encourage a fairer world balance and acquire a better quality product.

The symbol
Max Havelaar
, the hero of the book by Dekker, denounced the situation faced by the indigenous community in 19th century colonial Holland. This symbol became a sign of recognition, a label guaranteeing compliance with fair trade rules.


The results
The label was immediately successful with Dutch consumers. The concept spread to cocoa, tea, banana and cotton plantations and gradually reached other European countries, including France, in 1992, and the United States.
Max Havelaar currently certifies 630 organisations of coffee growers, covering 1.5 million workers. Including their families, that means 8 million individuals benefit directly from the effects of fair trade via their projects: creation of medical centres, schools, community homes for alternative crafts, purchase of a bus, creation of road sections…


The advantages

  • For consumers - Better quality coffee: by removing the obligation for immediate returns whatever the cost, growers can return to traditional methods, and stop using chemicals to stimulate or protect production.
  • For growers - land is no longer worn down to sterility, and growers are no longer in debt. Growers can return to food-producing farming, in addition to coffee operations, reducing depopulation and poverty due to the need to purchase food for day to day meals.
  • For roasters: economic commitment is compensated for by hands-on knowledge of the plantation. Roasters can control the entire coffee chain, including origins, monitoring, treatment and sale. Roasters can therefore influence product quality from the word go. Shaded plantations located at high altitudes (1,500 metres), hand harvested with several runs, achieve the quality expected by Malongo.

The historical partner: Malongo


1992, Jean-Pierre Blanc, Managing director of Malongo travelled to Mexico seeking out organic coffees. His meeting with Father Francisco Van der Hoff and the growers of the UCIRI cooperative was decisive: this led to the launch of coffee by small growers.
This strong, permanent, uninterrupted commitment makes Malongo the France’s premier company in fair trade coffees. Based on the success of this new economic model, Malongo also contributes to fair trade distribution with an ever wider range of products and the organisation of conferences and colloquiums.


The keys to fair certification

  • Direct sales: the product is purchased by the import agent in the north directly from the cooperative of growers in the south. No stock market speculation, less intermediaries.
  • A fair price: a floor is defined jointly. The following are added: a bonus for the social projects of the cooperative, and an organic bonus if organic certification is obtained.
  • A long-term commitment: a letter of intent ensures guaranteed income for growers and stable procurement for buyers.
  • Access to credit: if cooperatives so request, they may obtain early payment or a loan at a reasonable rate from buyers.
  • A transparent democratic organisation: the cooperative must be managed in a transparent and democratic manner.
  • Protecting the environment: some cooperatives fail to obtain organic certification, however the small growers in the cooperative practice small-scale agriculture and protect the environment. They prepare their own development projects.