When most of us go to the grocery store, we have a budget — and we need to stick to it. As much as we’d like to purchase only sustainable products by choosing foods that are local or organic or those that have been certified by third parties as better for the environment, our better for our health, or better for the producers, often our budget makes it necessary to prioritize.


One of those third-party certifications that I pay attention to is fair trade. Products that carry fair trade certification are sourced from farms where the workers are paid fair wages for their work and working conditions are safe. Because the farmers and their workers are paid more for what they grow, the end products made with fair trade certified ingredients tend to cost more. For people shopping with little wiggle room in their budget, it isn’t always possible to buy everything fair trade.


This weekend I did a little comparison shopping at my local Wegmans, looking at a few common items to see what the difference is between the fair trade certified versions and conventional versions. Here’s what I found.



The fair trade certified option I found was Wholesome Sweeteners Fair Trade Organic Sugar. The largest size, which was the most economical, was $2.50 per pound (lb.) in a 32-ounce bag. The conventional Domino sugar, in a 64-ounce bag, was $69.8/lb. The fair trade certified sugar costs 258 percent more than the conventional.



Wholesome Sweeteners Fair Trade Organic Honey was $7.99/lb. The same sized bottle of Sue Bee Honey was $3.89/lb. The fair trade honey cost 105 percent more than the conventional honey.


Chocolate chips

Sunspire Fair Trade Organic Chocolate Chips cost $8.87/lb. in a 9-ounce package. The Wegmans brand of chocolate chips cost $2.25/lb. for a 12-ounce package. The fair trade chocolate chips cost 294 percent more than conventional chocolate chips.



Lacas Organic, Fair Trade Dark Roast Mexican Coffee was $10.39/lb. for a 12-ounce package. Lacas’ regular coffee is $8.39/lb. for the same size. The fair trade coffee costs 24 percent more than conventional coffee.


When you do the math, it’s easy to see which product will give you the most bang for your fair trade buck. The price of this particular brand of fair trade coffee is only 24 percent more than the non-fair trade option. If your budget is tight, but you still wanted to support fair trade producers, coffee would be a choice that would allow you to contribute a little bit to helping farmers and workers while not ruining your grocery budget.


Related on MNN: Fair Trade Finder app simplifies the hunt for fair trade products


Robin Shreeves ( @rshreeves ) focuses on food from a family perspective from her home base in New Jersey.

Finding the best bargains in fair trade foods
Products that carry fair trade certification are sourced from places where the workers are paid fair wages for their work and the working conditions are safe. H