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Value of Fair Trade Certification Questioned

07/18/2019

Coffee, chocolate and other food products frequently carry a “Fair Trade” label. The extra cost involved is intended to assist small-scale farmers in Latin America and Africa by providing a reasonable price for their commodities.

Dr. Eva Meemken, an agricultural economist at Cornell University has recently published research on fair trade practices*. Based on interviews conducted in the nation of Cote d’Ivore, it was shown that benefits were received by farmers but not necessarily passed on to workers, despite Fair Trade claims for higher wages and gender equity.

The authors concluded “Fair trade hardly affects traditional employment modalities at the farm level even when farmers themselves benefit from certification. Ensuring that labor standards are met at all levels may require innovative and more efficient monitoring approaches”.

*Meemken, E-M et. al. “Effects of Fair Trade on the Livelihoods of Poor Rural Workers. Nature Sustainability 2:635-642 (2019)