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Fair Trade Certified™ Coffee Imports Hit Record High in 2012
Fair Trade USA and Partners Drive 18 Percent Growth in Fair Trade Certified Coffee Imports; Farming Communities Earn Additional $32 Million in Premiums

OAKLAND, Calif. (April 10, 2013) – Fair Trade USA, the leading third-party certifier of Fair Trade products in North America, today announced that Fair Trade Certified™ coffee imports hit an all-time high in 2012: 163 million pounds were imported into the United States and Canada, representing an 18 percent increase over 2011. This growth, driven by Fair Trade USA’s more than 400 coffee importing and roasting partners, helped farmers and workers earn an additional $32 million in Community Development Premiums. These Premiums, owned and managed by Fair Trade producers, are invested in much-needed projects, including medical care, environmental conservation, access to clean water, quality and productivity, scholarships for children and adults, and agricultural training. 

Fair Trade USA also brought on 60 new importers and roasters in 2012, and 50 new Fair Trade Certified coffee products were launched. Existing partners also ramped up their support of Fair Trade in 2012:

  • Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, Inc. (GMCR) recently converted one of its best-selling coffees, Green Mountain Coffee® Nantucket Blend®, to Fair Trade Certified™.
  • Allegro Coffee announced plans to convert its Ethiopian Blend to Fair Trade Certified in 2013. 

Due to this record growth in volume and imports, Fair Trade USA is on track to double the impact of Fair Trade for farmers and workers by 2015—a goal outlined in the organization’s 2011 Fair Trade for All innovation initiative. To support this continued momentum, in 2012 Fair Trade USA focused on three key areas necessary to increase the scope, impact and relevancy of Fair Trade for everyone in the supply chain:

Strengthening Farming Communities

To help cooperatives increase competitiveness and build resilience in the face of critical market challenges, Fair Trade USA:

  • Launched a Cooperative Small Grants Program, from which $60,000 was awarded to small-scale coffee producers to invest in quality and productivity; one grant specifically focused on rust management and prevention.
  • Organized eight “Intercambio” events in Latin America and Indonesia, connecting hundreds of cooperatives with U.S. buyers, lenders, and NGOs.
  • Sent bi-weekly coffee market updates to all Fair Trade producer organizations, helping them stay abreast of market trends for optimal negotiating power.

Including more People

Fair Trade USA is keenly focused on expanding the scope and impact of Fair Trade certification. Progress from 2012 includes:

  • The number of coffee producer organizations from which Fair Trade USA’s North American partners sourced grew 23 percent, to 221. Of this group, 99 percent were cooperatives.
  • Fair Trade USA began exploring certification for coffee farm workers and independent smallholders, groups previously excluded from participating in Fair Trade. Twelve pilot farms were included in this exploration (four of which were certified), representing 4,300 farmers and farm workers in Latin America, Asia and Africa.
  •  A comprehensive, independent Impact Assessment Process was developed to track and analyze the impact of new groups entering Fair Trade.

Engaging Consumers

Building awareness and demand for Fair Trade Certified products in the marketplace is critical for increasing impact for farmers. In 2012, Fair Trade USA:

  • Educated more consumers about Fair Trade than ever before through its Fair Trade Month campaign in October, which resulted in over 100 million impressions through a variety of digital and social media tactics.
  • Fair Trade Campaigns, a grassroots organization housed by Fair Trade USA, saw a 21 percent increase in participation in 2012, with a total of 76 Towns and 62 Colleges & Universities now promoting Fair Trade products at the local level.

“Fair Trade USA is proud of all that we’ve achieved with our partners in 2012.  Still, there is opportunity to provide so much more impact to many more farmers and workers,” said Jennifer Gallegos, Fair Trade USA’s Director of Coffee. “While coffee imports grew almost 20 percent last year, Fair Trade makes up just 5 percent of the U.S. coffee market. That’s why we’re focused on increasing the value and relevancy of Fair Trade, and ensuring that people-- farmers and workers-- are at the heart of every company’s sustainability strategy.”


Fair Trade USA, a nonprofit organization, is the leading third-party certifier of Fair Trade products in North America. Fair Trade USA audits and certifies transactions between companies and their international suppliers to help ensure that farmers and workers are paid fair prices and wages, work in safe conditions, protect the environment, and receive community development funds to empower and improve their communities. Fair Trade USA also educates consumers, brings new manufacturers and retailers into the Fair Trade system, and provides farming communities with the tools, training and resources to thrive as international businesspeople. Visit for more information.


Jenna Larson

Public Relations Manager