I have moved four times since I finished graduate school more than 10 years ago. Precious few of my textbooks have traveled with me through all those long-distance moves. One that has is a slender, dog-eared volume that advances in relatively few pages an exceptionally robust conceptual framework: Albert Hirschman’s Exit, Voice and Loyalty. Applying […]
The Fair Trade Certification system has been convulsed since Fair Trade USA broke ranks with Fairtrade International more than a year ago, introducing its ambitious Fair Trade for All initiative and changing the rules of the game. The substance of the decision rankled coops and Fair Trade pioneers. But what seemed to really unite opposition […]
Fair Trade USA is rolling out Fair Trade for All pilots with coffee estates and independent smallholder farmers all around the world. If these pilots succeed, we expect to see more and more of them. But what does success look like, and how will we measure it? I have had several good discussions of this […]
Last September, Fair Trade USA issued two controversial announcements: one about its decision to withdraw from Fairtrade International, the global Fair Trade Certifier formerly known as FLO, and another launching its Fair Trade for All initiative, which rewrites the rules of Fair Trade and opens the U.S. Fair Trade market to coffee estates. In the […]
When FTUSA decided a few months ago to fundamentally rewrite the rules of Fair Trade for the U.S. market, the news hit the Fair Trade fold with all the force of an earthquake. The aftershocks have been making themselves felt for weeks: position statements by smallholder farmer networks, governance shake-ups at competing certifiers, ranging debates […]
On Halloween, I published a post summarizing everything written here on the Fair Trade for All debate and promised to leave this issue alone for a while. With new information continuing to emerge in this evolving process, it has proven harder than I thought to keep my word. Yesterday I published three more new posts […]
In a wide-ranging conversation with CRS staff last week, Fair Trade USA CEO Paul Rice defended the decision to break with FLO and open the U.S. market for Fair Trade Certified coffee to estates. He suggested there are two theories about what will happen to smallholder farmer cooperatives once estates enter the market. One theory is the zero-sum view that the estates’ […]
The joint announcement by Fair Trade USA and FLO that the two organizations will be going their separate ways at the end of this year is old news by now. It is still not entirely clear, however, what the split — and Fair Trade USA’s “Fair Trade for All” initiative, with its promise to “adapt […]
Yesterday I suggested that Fair Trade has little to do with quality on the roasting and retail end of the coffee chain. On the sourcing end, however, I believe that there are elements of the Fair Trade model that help certain Fair Trade roasters get a leg up on the competition.
I have published some critiques of Fair Trade Certification here in recent weeks, and have gotten some thoughtful and even-minded pushback about it both online and off. I feel compelled, as they say in the U.S. Congress, to “revise and extend my remarks” about Fair Trade. In so doing, I will turn for help to one of the great parliamentarians of the 20th century, and a small group of allies working to shape Fair Trade in the 21st.