Approaching maturity, fair trade faces challenges at both ends of the supply chain, reflecting the dual approach of fair trade as a business and development instrument. Who should supply the fair trade market, what support do producers require and what is the impact of the relationship between fair trade organizations and producers? How can fair trade continue to assert its unique selling point in the market place and what messages should it be transmitting to the consumer? The paper draws on research, consultancy and engagement with the fair trade movement to explore issues of producer development, accountability, and competition in the consumer market and to look forward to potential strategies for the movement, especially as other approaches to trading ethically are becoming more active in the market place.
Towards a collaborative approach between practitioners and academics: insights from an academic–Fairtrade collaboration
Partnership approaches have been identified as crucial for meeting the Sustainable Development Goals. In the context of an emerging literature on cross-sector partnerships, and more specifically reflections on how academic institutions and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) create effective and mutually beneficial research collaborations, this paper draws on the experiences of a particular partnership between academic researchers and a Fair Trade organization partnership to contribute to building an understanding of how collaborative research can be achieved more effectively. A set of collaborative outputs resulted from the experience, including best practices for engagement and a training tool. It has contributed to changes in some of Fairtrade International’s ways of working with researchers. We found that we had more in common than what divided us in terms of skills and attitudes to knowledge, which is an important factor in the success of our relationship. Rooted in reflective practice, our project highlights the importance of trust and relationship building but also recognition of formal agreements and institutional structures to sustain the relationship.
This special edition of Food Chain focuses on Fair Trade and its relevance for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). With its emphasis on producer empowerment, living wages, fair pricing, and long-term partnerships, linked to socially focused businesses and supply chains, the Fair Trade movement aims to transform both production and consumption and contribute to wider systemic change that supports sustainable livelihoods. We refer to Fair Trade (two words) as a broad range of organizations and campaigning networks, including Fairtrade (one word) certification, social enterprises, and cooperatives that espouse Fair Trade principles and support the International Fair Trade Charter (2018).