Fair Trade's Future


About Fair Trade

Fair Trade in context



Fair Trade’s Future

The Fair Trade movement is momentarily undergoing a massive change from an alternative trading mechanism to becoming a part of the market. The interest and participation of multinationals such as Starbucks emphasizes commercial opportunities. However small the Fair Trade share of these companies - it's the Fair Trade name that draws customers and increases profits.

The awareness of Fair Trade has risen dramatically which is mirrored in a greater sale of these products. A standard argument against Fair Trade used to be its relatively high prices, but many Fair Trade items have higher quality to justify the inflated prices. Fair Trade has catalyzed a shift towards more ethical consumption and trading. Therefore, Fair Trade is now consumer-driven and producer-focused, relying less on activists.

Either the saturation point might be reached soon or the interest might prove to be short-lived. Furthermore, attention of multinationals might be drawn towards producing their own low-cost non-Fair Trade labeled product chains to promote a different approach towards addressing consumer concerns. Globally, Fair Trade is still minimal, representing approximately 0.01% of all goods exchanged internationally as J. Vidal states in ‘Fair Trade sales hit £100m a year’, The Guardian, 28 February: 13.
There are several problems that might arise, if the market for Fair Trade products grows too fast. Firstly, capital is going to be needed for marketing and certification. Secondly, problems with the current structure will arise because Fair Trade governance is not well suited for fast change and growth. Most importantly, there is no legal definition of Fair Trade and thus, no protection against products that falsely claim to be Fair Trade.

In the future, it is imperative for the Fair Trade movement to continue building a market share, examining new Fair Trade opportunities, and strengthening advocacy in the political arena.

For the future Fair Trade should continue to work on:
• building the Fair Trade brand, associating it with quality and launching new products
• communicating with consumers, especially targeting mass-market audience
• encouraging grassroots campaigning
• encompassing more different production lines, even though their supply chains might be more complicated
• reevaluating regional differences on the producer as well as consumer side
• encouraging South-South Fair Trade
• coordinating all the different labeling organizations, restructuring them so that they become less bureaucratic and more efficient

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Courtesy of Celine Pastore


Courtesy of Yunnan Jiang

The next generation is preparing to enter the world market...

Photographed by Marcia C. Schenck

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