Fair Trade: A Cup at a Time?

By Margaret Levi and April Linton,
September 2003,
University of Washington Seattle,  Washington, United States
Politics & Society
Fair Trade coffee campaigns have improved the lives of small-scale coffee farmers and their families by raising wages, creating direct trade links to farming coopera- tives, and providing access to affordable credit and technological assistance. Con- sumer demand for Fair Trade certified coffee is at an all-time high, yet cooperatives that produce it are only able to sell about half of their crops at the established fair trade price. This article explores the reasons behind this gap between supply and demand and suggests ways to close it. The authors also offer some perspective on the limits of ethical consumption campaigns such as Fair Trade coffee.