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Interlake Spectator article: Interlake coffee-maker combines sales with fair trade

Posted February 24th 2009

Interlake coffee-maker combines sales with fair trade

By Roger Newman

Locally-processed fair trade coffee has arrived in the East Interlake.

This type of coffee, which combines consumption with a social purpose, has been brought to the region by Derryl Reid, owner of Green Bean coffee imports of Clandeboye.

Reid buys coffee beans from around the world and sells them either whole or ground in Manitoba. He is a disciple for the international fair trade program which is striving to develop a higher standard of living for producers, artisans and other workers in relatively poor Southern Hemisphere countries.

He admits that his coffee is sold at a premium to ensure producers receive a fair return for their labours while working in healthy, safe and environmentally-friendly conditions. A portion of the purchase price also goes to fund overseas community initiatives in such fields as health care, education and agriculture.

Although fair trade coffee costs a little extra, Reid says buyers will have no regrets once they taste the Green Bean product.

“It is 10 times better than conventional brands,” he says modestly. “It is 100-per-cent organic with no additives.”

Reid, a self-confessed coffee addict, launched his company two years ago after working for the Freshwater Fish Marketing Corporation in Riverton. Following a lot of research on coffee, he began marketing the Green Bean label which is now available at such retail outlets as Sobeys in Gimli and the Blue Rooster store in Winnipeg Beach.

He also shares his revenue with community organizations that sell his coffee as a fundraiser. Currently, Giml High students are selling Green Bean to all-comers while the Icelandic River heritage sites preservation group is marketing it at the New Iceland Heritage Museum.

Reid says things are going well for his emerging company. “I want it to be socially responsible and environmentally sustainable in every respect,” he said.

He was promoting his coffee Tuesday night when the New Iceland museum displayed an international fair trade photo exhibit by Montreal photojournalist Eric St. Pierre. The Montrealer, who has been documenting the development of fair trade in 20 countries since 1996, came to Gimli under the auspices of the Manitoba Council for International Cooperation (MCIC) which runs the fair trade program in this province.

Zack Gross, of MCIC, said the photo display — which will return to the museum in the last week of February — kicks off Manitoba’s One Month Fair Trade Challenge. Starting Valentine’s Day, Manitobans will be asked to buy only fair trade brands of coffee, tea and chocolate for the next 30 days. People interested in supporting the challenge can sign up at www.fairtrademanitoba.ca.

“There is a good chance that Gimli will become Manitoba’s first fair trade community,” said Gross, a Sandy Hook resident.

St, Pierre, meanwhile, said the fair trade movement and ethical consumerism connected to consumption are growing around the world.

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This program was made possible with financial support of the Government of Manitoba,
and was undertaken with the financial support of the Government of Canada provided through Global Affairs Canada (GAC)

Government of ManitobaGlobal Affairs Canada