Membership Dues

on Friday, January 16, 2009

When I became a Certified Fair Trade™ coffee roaster things were different, there was an easy online way of reporting how many pounds of FTO beans I had bought from my supplier and I was required to pay about 10¢ per -- and most importantly, membership was free.

Now the reporting method involves filling out a spreadsheet and emailing it to them, which is a bit more confusing. C'est la vie, I can adjust. What I don't like is the sudden annual fee to simply be a member of the club, the dues are $700 per year, and that's on top of the 10¢ per pound fee. Last year my per pound fee was over $1000.

So these days I find myself in a dilemma, I can't really afford to pay $700 a year to belong to a club right now. I am required to put a Certified Fair Trade™ logo on any bag of CFT coffee that goes out my door, they supply them for a limited time, then it's up to me to incorporate it into my own labels, which they have to approve. I can get stickers, posters, door signs, etc. from them for free which is great.

What it all boils down to is marketing and product recognition, if you see the little black logo you know instantly that it is a Certified Fair Trade™ product. And whereas that is an important consideration I know that I could still label my coffee as "Fair Trade," note the omission of the word "Certified." Would that be enough? Is a single word worth $58.33 per month?

It's nickles and dimes and that's pretty much all we have around here. If money weren't tight, it wouldn't be an issue.