Research and Analysis

Is Smaller Better for Sustainable Farming?

The quality of food sold in developed countries and the livelihoods of millions of people in developing countries are becoming more reliant on small-scale farming.  The fair trade movement has grown as a powerful force to support small farmers and their communities.  Some argue that for fair trade to be adopted by mainstream consumers, large scale farms and plantations are needed to produce higher quantities of products.  These articles provide some insight into the impact of small farms on food security and developing communities.
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Harvard / MIT Study: Consumers Will Pay a Fair Trade Premium

Advocates of fair trade certification maintain that socially conscious consumers will be willing to spend more for a product if they can be assured that it was produced in fair working conditions. A May 2012 study by researchers at Harvard University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology finds evidence to support this, based on field research that measures what shoppers are willing to pay for fair trade labeled clothing.
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How Fair Trade Reduces Global Poverty

If you’re reading this, you have probably already decided that you’d like to help disadvantaged farmers and workers by purchasing products that are fair trade certified.  But you may also be wondering how those who produced the product will actually benefit from what you buy.  There is surprisingly little independent analysis of the benefits for disadvantaged producers and their communities, given that fair trade accounts for billions of dollars in annual sales.  Most studies have focused on the motivation of consumers rather than the actual benefits to the producers themselves.  Two recent studies published by researchers in Europe and the US show how fair trade helps fight global poverty.

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Fair Trade Buyers and the Global Recession

A recent study finds that consumers have remained loyal to fair trade products, even in the midst of the global recession. Those who had made a habit of buying these products before the recession continued to make the same amount of purchases even during economic distress.  Our analysis of this study is that ethical decision making is driving the growth and retention of fair trade product adoption and that product availability may be more important than price in creating customer loyalty.

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Is Free Trade Fair?

Free trade is not always fairThe terms free trade and fair trade are often confused, since they are used frequently when discussing international trade between developing countries (or “South”) and industrialized nations (or “North”).

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Fair Trade Definition

Fair Trade is both a brand and a set of principles.Fair Trade means Economic Justice

As a brand, a fair trade certification tells you that a product has been made and its producer compensated in ways that follow fair trade standards. As consumers, we rely on third-party organizations to evaluate how a product is brought to market and verify that farmers and workers were treated fairly. There are several certifying organizations that define what it means for a product to receive the Fair Trade brand.  You can visit our Certifications page for information about the most recognized international and US based fair trade organizations.

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