Evaluating the Impact of Fair Trade for All

04/03/2013 - 3:32 PM

In the fall of 2011 Fair Trade USA announced a new vision to double the impact of Fair Trade for farmers and workers by 2015.

This initiative, which we call Fair Trade for All, is about increasing the scope, impact and relevancy of Fair Trade for everyone in the supply chain. To do this, we're:

  • Strengthening Farming Communities by investing in cooperatives and partnering with others to provide support services, with a focus on quality and business capacity
  • Including More Farmers, Farm Workers and Communities in the benefits of Fair Trade
  • Engaging Consumers to increase market demand for Fair Trade Certified products and grow sales and impact

To begin including more farmers and workers in Fair Trade, we launched a pilot program to test the feasibility of applying existing Fair Trade standards to new groups in coffee—farm workers on estates and independent smallholders-- who, until now, have been unable to earn certification. 

In order to evaluate the impact of this pilot program, we’ve developed a comprehensive Impact Assessment Process, which aims to bring clarity, transparency, and multi-stakeholder input to the forefront of our innovation work.

Multi-Stakeholder Consultation

To develop the framework for the Impact Assessment Process, we partnered with the Sustainable Food Lab to gather input from stakeholders from across the Fair Trade ecosystem. Participants included roasters, importers, NGO’s and Fair Trade farmers. Their feedback has been included in the final Impact Assessment Process.  

Gathering Data

Our system will gather information across each pillar of the Fair Trade standards--empowerment, economic development, social responsibility and environmental stewardship. Through personal interviews, group discussions, formal on-site audits, and a new labor evaluation technology called Labor Link, we will gather qualitative and quantitative information from participating farmers and workers.  We will also conduct thorough market research to determine whether or not farms already in the Fair Trade system remain competitive.  This process will be led by Fair Trade USA and implemented by independent consultants.

In addition, we are supporting the development of an independent impact assessment process that will be led by the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), one of the leading research organizations in Latin America.  This second process will be complementary to our comprehensive Impact Assessment Process and would allow the Fair Trade community to understand the effects and outcomes of four specific pilots.

Evaluation and Reporting

To measure results, we will continue working with key external, independent stakeholders to help us analyze and report the findings from our pilot program and its influence on the overall market. We will work with our Coffee Innovation Council, formed by Fair Trade producers, NGO’s and business partners, for an independent analysis of the results. We will also work with our Impact Assessment Committee to analyze all information coming from our Impact Assessment Processes. We plan to share this work publically at the end of the pilot period.

We recognize that two years is a short time to measure the full impact of this work. However, based on the feedback we have received from people working in Monitor and Evaluation systems, we believe our methodology will allow us to capture enough information to understand, after the 2 year period, if we are headed in the right direction to bring the benefits of Fair Trade far more farmers and workers across the globe.

If you want to learn more about our Impact Assessment Process, please click here.

04/03/2013 - 3:32 PM
04/02/2013 - 5:29 PM