Sugar. You probably have some in your kitchen – after all, it’s a key ingredient in so many of the foods and drinks we enjoy. But it’s not all sweet: small-scale sugar cane farmers face intense pressure from large-scale producers, price swings and climate change.
About 175 million tonnes of sugar are produced each year. The majority of that comes from sugar cane, with sugar beets in second place. Fairtrade works with small-scale sugar cane farmers to improve their bargaining position as well as their businesses and communities.
Choosing Fairtrade sugar makes a difference
Sugar cane farmers grapple not only with price volatility, but also with competition from other sources. When the European Union decided to end caps on its own sugar beet production in 2017, small-scale sugar cane farmers around the world faced the prospect of losing a major market for their goods. Elsewhere, government subsidies to large-scale sugar producers in countries like Brazil, Mexico and Thailand further squeezed farmers in smaller states where governments cannot afford financial support to local production.
Beyond the markets, unpredictable droughts and heavy rains have hit sugar cane farmers hard. For farmers very invested in a single crop, adapting to the new norms of a changing climate is very challenging.
Fairtrade works with small-scale sugar cane farmers to expand their access to global markets and find new avenues for sales – including exploring biofuels and value-added goods like rum. As a result, the amount of sugar that farmers sell on Fairtrade terms has increased significantly in recent years.
Some of the revenues generated through Fairtrade have supported farmers to improve irrigation and drainage infrastructure as well as diversify their crops, providing an extra line of defence against tropical storms and droughts.
Here is more of what Fairtrade means to sugar cane farmers:
Taken in moderation, sugar can help us enjoy la dolce vita. When you stock up, opting for Fairtrade sugar can make a real difference in the livelihoods of tens of thousands of small-scale cane farmers.
What is the Fairtrade premium?
The Fairtrade Premium is an extra sum of money paid on top of the selling price that farmers or workers invest in projects of their choice.
They decide together and democratically how to spend the Fairtrade Premium to reach their goals, such as improving their farming, businesses, or health and education in their community. Farmers and workers know best what their priorities and needs are.
Since 2014, Fairtrade farmers and workers have received well over half a billion euros in Fairtrade Premium.
This is a unique benefit enabled by your decision to buy Fairtrade products.
Are you a farmer, worker or business interested in Fairtrade certification?
Looking for Fairtrade Products?
Fairtrade products are widely available. The blue countries and territories on the map below have Fairtrade organizations that promote Fairtrade products. Their websites often include a product finder to show you the full variety of Fairtrade products near you. Even if there isn't a Fairtrade organization where you live, Fairtrade products may still be available – look for our familiar marks on products!
Anita Sheth explains Fairtrade's ongoing programme in Belize to empower local youth and educate farmers on solutions to end the practice.
Producers received record premiums as Fairtrade emphasizes sustainable livelihoods
Grassroots research by young people from a Fairtrade sugar producer organization in Belize has given unique insights into the experience of young cane cutters in the Central ...