There wouldn’t be any point to Fairtrade if it didn’t generate tangible benefits for the farmers and workers involved. Thankfully, the impact of Fairtrade is real – and growing!
Here is a brief overview of some of the impact you enable when you choose Fairtrade. Thank you!
More sales, more benefits for producers
It’s pretty simple: the more that farmers and workers can sell their products on Fairtrade terms, the more they can benefit from Fairtrade’s collaborative approach to trade.
When you purchase Fairtrade products, you not only express your solidarity with farmers and workers who are marginalized by global trade, but you also send a signal to businesses and governments that you want trade to be different, better.
The Fairtrade Standards combine a range of economic, environmental and social criteria that are independently audited as part of Fairtrade certification. These criteria reflect Fairtrade’s goal to promote sustainable production and decent livelihoods. When you buy Fairtrade, you help to ensure these factors are not casually written off as ‘externalities’ or treated as costs that farmers and workers should bear alone.
The numbers are clear: consumers care about fairness and sustainability, and are buying more Fairtrade every single year.
Beyond a Fairtrade Minimum Price for most products, the Fairtrade approach includes a Fairtrade Premium – an additional sum of money that farmers and workers invest in projects they choose. Premium investments often target needed improvements in the community, or training and resources to enhance their businesses and operations.
Since 2015, Fairtrade farmers and workers have received well over half a billion euros in Fairtrade Premium, funding countless activities benefitting the producers at the heart of the system.
Taking an average, that would work out to €110,000 in Fairtrade Premium for each producer organization in 2018 (our latest complete data set).
From a room to a home
Fairtrade Premium funds can be put to many uses.
After joining Fairtrade, the first thing that members of the Coobana banana cooperative in Panama chose to improve was the desperate living conditions of their workers and families.
'Since starting with Fairtrade it’s made a mega-revolution in our lives… We used to all live, cook and sleep in the same room,’ says Martial, a founding member of the cooperative.
Here, Martial and his wife Elvia, along with their two daughters and two granddaughters, stand outside their house that was extended with Fairtrade Premium money.
Investing in childrens' futures
The extra Premium funds that Fairtrade generates for farmers and workers can have lasting impacts.
The Sukambizi Association, a Fairtrade tea farmer group in Malawi, decided to invest some of its Fairtrade Premium in essential services for children – including 12 school blocks in different villages.
Before these schools were built, many parents were reluctant to send their youngest kids on long walks to distant schools, leading to high absenteeism.
'Without Fairtrade’s help, many children wouldn’t be motivated to attend school, something which would affect their future lives considerably,' says Eddie, headmaster at one of the new schools.
The Sukambizi Association also used Fairtrade Premium money to support the construction of a maternity wing (saving expectant mothers from a 40km journey), the purchase of an ambulance, and the extension of clean-water systems to over 4000 families.
Producers know what they need
Agriculture isn't easy. Price swings, climate change, and limited access to credit create pressure on producers, who often struggle to stretch the earnings from one harvest to the next.
The Fairtrade Premium and earnings from the Fairtrade Minimum Price can help counter such challenges.
The Koperasi Baithul Qiradh Baburrayyan (KBQB) – a Fairtrade coffee cooperative in Indonesia – has invested Premium funds in farmers' trainings, an emergency social fund, and new assets such as land for nurseries. After an earthquake struck their region, some Premium was spent on cash and rice disbursements. Other targets for investment included new seedlings, planting shade trees, and more environmental education.
The producers know best what they need to succeed. 'I need agriculture tools, such as a grass trimmer, sprayer, and organic fertilizer. With these supports I believe I will earn enough for my children,' says Hidayah, a small-scale farmer and worker at KBQB.
Fairtrade requires democratic decisions about the distribution of Premium funds, so people like Hidayah have a say in investments that can shape their future.
More producers are choosing Fairtrade
The number of Fairtrade certified producer organizations – whether smallholder farming cooperatives or plantations with hired labour – is expanding each year. This means more farmers and workers want to be part of Fairtrade and the benefits it can bring to them. Our latest data shows that of the 1,783,061 farmers and workers in the Fairtrade system in 2018:
There were 178,051 workers at Fairtrade certified plantations
There were 1,605,010 farmers at Fairtrade certified small producer organizations
Fairtrade commissions and encourages research to explore some of the prickly questions that are fundamental to changing how trade works. What is a living wage for a worker in a specific industry? How much does a family farm need to earn to have a decent and sustainable living? How do producers benefit from Fairtrade, and where is there room for improvement?
We use research and collect data to inform our work, enhance our standards and pricing system, and promote innovative solutions to the structural challenges that hurt farmers and workers in global supply chains.
Learn more about our research and access evaluations of Fairtrade here.
Raising the bar, rewriting the rules
Through the Fairtrade Standards and our consultative process to continue refining them, we set an example that industry players can’t ignore. Simply put, Fairtrade’s very existence poses the implicit question, why is conventional trade so unfair? Via our standards, we demonstrate concrete steps that companies and governments can take to improve the lives of workers and farmers while making global supply chains more sustainable.
As you might have guessed, we don't work alone.
Fairtrade is part of the broader global fair trade movement, and we have formed numerous partnerships to enhance our regional and global advocacy.
Grassroots support for fairer trade is shown every time that shoppers and companies choose Fairtrade products, and every time citizens choose to join the network of over 2,000 Fair Trade Towns and universities around the world.
Together we are changing trade and changing lives.
Looking for Fairtrade Products?
Fairtrade products are widely available. The blue countries and territories on the map below have Fairtrade organizations that promote Fairtrade products. Their websites often include a product finder to show you the full variety of Fairtrade products near you. Even if there isn't a Fairtrade organization where you live, Fairtrade products may still be available – look for our familiar marks on products!