Evaluation and Research

Auditor and farmer at Coopeatenas R.L. in Costa Rica, ©Tatiana Marin

Fairtrade commissions two or three outcome and impact evaluations each year. Evaluations are typically conducted for each major product every three years. These are led by independent research institutions with expertise in researching the effects of certification. We also collaborate in other ways with external research institutions to support research into topics of interest to us.

Evaluations and research give us in-depth insight into how and to what extent individual farmers and workers benefit by being part of Fairtrade. They also enable us to identify and understand challenge areas where we can take action to improve our effectiveness.

Wherever possible, we publish the full results of evaluation research to support wider knowledge and understanding of the Fairtrade impacts and to hold ourselves accountable to where we need to improve. We welcome feedback on these reports to impact@fairtrade.net.

For more information about the programme of forthcoming Fairtrade evaluations and other commissioned research please click here.

There are many aspects of Fairtrade that are under-researched, and we encourage external researchers to try to fill some of those knowledge gaps. Good quality, accurate, well-designed research can make a real contribution to our work. If you are a researcher who is planning new research on Fairtrade, we would love to know more about your research plans. Please get in touch by emailing a.mendoza@fairtrade.net.

The impact of Fairtrade - 2017 (3.4 MB PDF)

Fairtrade International commissioned the Overseas Development Institute to conduct an in-depth review of recent research to find out to what extent Fairtrade is contributing towards its intended impacts. This review synthesizes results from 45 studies published between 2009 and 2015. It offers comprehensive insights into Fairtrade’s impacts for smallholder producer groups and workers on plantations. The results are analysed according to key themes from the Fairtrade Theory of Change, focusing on Fairtrade’s contribution to our goals of sustainable livelihoods and empowerment for small-scale farmers and agricultural workers.

ODI: The Impact of Fairtrade: A Review of Research Evidence 2009-2015 (PDF, 3.4 MB)

At a glance (PDF, 375 KB)

Management response to 'The Impact of Fairtrade: A Review of Research Evidence 2009-2015' (PDF, 575 KB)

Assessing Coffee Farmer Household Income - 2017 (2.6 MB PDF)

Fairtrade worked with social enterprise True Price on an assessment of coffee farmer household income in seven producer countries: Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, Kenya, India, Indonesia and Vietnam.

This research allows Fairtrade to build up knowledge on measuring farmer household income. It will also inform discussions across the coffee sector on how supply chain actors can partner with farmers to achieve a ‘living income’.

Key findings and Fairtrade’s response at a glance (PDF, 428 KB)

Executive summary of the report (PDF, 1.6 MB)

Baseline for Assessing the Impact of Fairtrade Certification on Cocoa Farmers and Cooperatives in Ghana (7.1MB PDF)

Fairtrade International and Fairtrade Africa commissioned the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) and Bioversity International to carry out baseline research with smallholder cocoa farmers and their cooperative unions in Ghana. The baseline will form a framework for stakeholder engagement and improved intervention design, to inform Fairtrade’s work in West Africa. A similar study was carried out in Côte d’Ivoire, which will be published later in 2017.

Study Results at a Glance (0.5MB PDF)

Response from Fairtrade (0.8MB PDF)

Fairtrade Coffee: An evaluation of the Impact of Fairtrade in Indonesia, Mexico, Peru and Tanzania - 2016 (3.9MB PDF)

Fairtrade commissioned the Natural Resources Institute at the University of Greenwich to conduct an evaluation of Fairtrade impact in the coffee sector, focussing on small-scale organizations in Indonesia, Mexico, Peru and Tanzania. The research examined in what ways Fairtrade coffee farmers and their organizations benefit from Fairtrade, focusing on key indicators including price, income, production, access to training, and various aspects of producer organization strength.

Study Results at a Glance (0.5MB PDF)

NRI Summary Report (1.8MB PDF)

Response from Fairtrade (0.4MB PDF)

Baseline study: Fairtrade certification in the banana hired labour sector - 2016 (4.9MB PDF)

Report in Spanish - Certificación Fairtrade para trabajo contratado en el sector bananero - 2016 (4.3MB PDF)

Fairtrade commissioned independent consultants LEI Wageningen UR to conduct this study to provide baseline data for future impact assessments. The study gathered data on a range of socio-economic indicators to assess the impact of Fairtrade certification on workers in the banana hired labour sector in the Dominican Republic, Colombia and Ghana. Initial findings show that Fairtrade certification has a direct, positive impact on workers' income, empowerment, collective bargaining and living standards. The study also highlights key areas for future focus.

Study Results at a Glance (0.6MB PDF)

Response from Fairtrade (0.5MB PDF)

Baseline Study of Fairtrade Cotton in West Africa - 2015 (2MB PDF)

Report in French- Etude de référence du Coton de Fairtrade en Afrique de l’ouest - 2015 (2.5MB PDF)

Fairtrade International commissioned Aidenvironment to collect data from farmers and producer organizations in Mali, Burkina Faso and Senegal to measure the impact of Fairtrade on the cotton industry in West Africa.  Fairtrade intends to follow this baseline study with an impact evaluation within the next years to measure the progress made by the introduction of the Fairtrade Cotton Program.

Study Results at a Glance (0.5 PDF)

Response from Fairtrade International (0.4MB PDF)

Growing our Cocoa, Raising our Voices: Participatory Video Research from Côte d’Ivoire - 2015

Twenty-five women cocoa farmers from rural Côte d’Ivoire took part in a participatory film-making project, ‘Growing our Cocoa, Raising our Voices’, with support from Fairtrade and the Dutch research institution KIT. The women participated in four intensive days of training, where they learned filming and interviewing techniques, and developed storyboards for their films. They returned to their villages to shoot the films. The final films give insights into the concerns and interests of the women farmers as they seek better returns for their cocoa, deeper participation in their cooperatives, and livelihood opportunities outside of farming. They are being used to stimulate discussion about gender issues with Fairtrade producers.

The final films are available in English and French, and in long and short versions:

Link to full English film (27:00 minutes)

Link to full French film (27:00)

Link to short English film (06:31)

Link to short French film (06:31)

Assessing the Benefits of Fairtrade Orange Juice for Brazilian Small Farmers - 2014 (0.9MB PDF)

Summary and Response from Max Havelaar Netherlands and Max Havelaar Switzerland (0.1MB PDF)

Fairtrade orange juice has been on the Fairtrade market for almost 15 years with the majority coming from Fairtrade farmers in Brazil. This study by BSD Consulting of Brazil assesses the impact of Fairtrade for growers' cooperatives in Brazil. Three groups were selected in the major orange producing regions of Brazil. The study assessed social, economic and environmental benefits for the farmers and their workers.

An Evaluation of Fairtrade Impact on Smallholders and Workers in the Banana Sector in Northern Colombia- 2014 (2.4MB PDF)

Summary and Response from Max Havelaar Netherlands and Fairtrade International (0.1MB PDF)

Fairtrade bananas have been on the market for nearly 19 years and are one of the most successful Fairtrade products in many markets – up to 50 percent market share in some countries. The study by CODER assesses the impact of Fairtrade for banana farmers in small producer organizations and workers on plantations in Colombia. The study concludes that Fairtrade, along with the support of other organizations, and the introduction of labour unions have contributed to a revival of the banana sector in Colombia, and greater respect for human and labour rights. The study also highlights key challenges and makes useful recommendations on how to address them.

Assessing the Impacts of Fairtrade on Worker-Defined Forms of Empowerment on Ecuadorian Flower Plantations - 2014 (2.4MB PDF)

Summary and Response from Fairtrade International and Max Havelaar Foundation (0.1MB PDF)

Over the past ten years, flowers have become a major product category for Fairtrade. In 2012, 536 million Fairtrade flower stems were sold. This report by independent researcher Angus Lyall summarizes the results of a series of workshops held with workers on three Fairtrade-certified flower farms in Ecuador. It confirms that Fairtrade’s approach can yield important benefits for workers. However, the study also highlights challenges and makes useful recommendations on how to address them.

Final Evaluation of SFFP Phase II 2010-2013 (1.1MB PDF)

The first phase of the Strategic Fairtrade Funding Programme (SFFP) programme concluded successfully in 2009. The second phase ended in 2013. A final evaluation of SFFP phase II (2010-2013) was carried out by the Netherlands-based consultancy firm Aidenvironment, an organization known for its expertise in the area of sustainable development and sustainable value chains. The evaluation accounted for the investments made and learning for improvement going forward.

Fairtrade International’s leadership welcomes the findings of this external evaluation, which accurately reflects the achievements and the areas where Fairtrade faces challenges. The report is a rich and constructive resource with targeted recommendations that will help move Fairtrade forward in developing and implementing our strategic framework beyond 2015. We thank Aidenvironment for their work on the evaluation, and the SFFP consortium for their vital support and guidance.

The report (available here) highlights Fairtrade’s strategic progress in recent years.

Branching Out: Fairtrade in Malawi - 2013 (5MB PDF)

Taking Root: Fairtrade in Malawi - 2011 (3MB PDF)

The international Fairtrade system has commissioned a long-term study on the effects of Fairtrade on five organizations in Malawi, a Least Developed Country. These research papers highlight the social and economic effects of Fairtrade while recognising the challenges ahead if it is to deepen its impact. The third part of this study will be released in 2015. The assessment was carried out by the Natural Resources Institute at the University of Greenwich in collaboration with the Malawi Fairtrade Network, Fairtrade Africa and the Fairtrade Foundation, UK.

What can we learn from the banana experience in Colombia? Study on industrial relations on Fairtrade certified farms in the Urabá region- 2013 (0.6MB PDF)

Report in Spanish - ¿Qué podemos aprender de la experiencia bananera en Colombia? (0.2MB PDF)

This study was commissioned by Fairtrade International in order to learn from the progress made on workers’ rights on banana farms in the Urabá region of Colombia.

Assessing the Impact of Fairtrade on Poverty Reduction through Rural development - 2012 (1MB PDF)

Report in Spanish - Informe Final Estudio del Impacto del Comercio Justo (1MB PDF)

Summary of results (0.1MB PDF)

Summary in Spanish - Resumen de los resultados del estudio (0.2MB PDF)

Response from TransFair Germany and Max Havelaar Foundation Switzerland (0.3MB PDF)

On occasion of the 20th anniversary of both TransFair Germany and the Max Havelaar Foundation (Switzerland), the two organizations jointly commissioned a study that provides insight to the question if and how Fairtrade impacts on poverty reduction through rural development. The study employs an ambitious design with target and control groups and presents findings from an extensive qualitative and quantitative data analysis based on six case studies of six different producer organizations in South America, Africa and Asia. With its specific focus on rural development, the study provides useful insights onto the impact of Fairtrade beyond the level of producer organizations.

Assessing the Impact of Fairtrade for Peruvian Cocoa Farmers - 2012 (2.4MB PDF)

Summary of report (1.8PMB PDF)

The aim of this study by the Institute of Natural Resources is evaluating the impact of Fairtrade cocoa in Peru. As Fairtrade is currently evolving very quickly, Fairtrade International is trying to understand whether Fairtrade tools have had a (positive or negative, expected or unexpected) impact on small cocoa farmers in Peru.

Fairtrade Cotton: Assessing Impact in Mali, Senegal, Cameroon and India - 2011 (2.6MB PDF)

Summary of report (0.5MB PDF)

Fairtrade Foundation response (2.6MB PDF)

Since 2004 Fairtrade has been tackling the inequality of the global cotton trade. This report presents the challenges faced by Fairtrade in targeting the small farmers at the very end of a long and complex supply chain. However it also highlights the difference that Fairtrade has made to small farming communities so far and provides recommendations on how Fairtrade cotton can fulfil its potential in the future.

Partnership for Prosperity - 2011 (6MB PDF)

A partnership between Fairtrade International and the Netherlands Development Organization (SNV) is helping build local capacity. Fairtrade International liaison officers and SNV work to develop Fairtrade value chains with high market potential. As a result of the partnership, numerous farming communities in eleven African countries now benefit from expanded market access, increased production, employment and income, as well as broader social progress and greater control over their future.

Fairtrade Tea: Early Impacts in Malawi - 2010 (7MB PDF)

This paper marks the first stage of a longer-term study to assess the impact of Fairtrade in the tea sector in Malawi.

Impact of Fairtrade in South Africa - 2010 (PDF 5MB)

This briefing paper explores the impact of Fairtrade on five Fairtrade-certified Producer Organizations in South Africa selling citrus, table grapes, wine grapes, wine, apples, pears and raisins.

Climate Change, Agricultural Adaptation and Fairtrade - 2010 (PDF 4MB)

Climate change poses significant challenges for the agricultural sector and in particular for small farmers and the Fairtrade movement. This reports presents those challenges and makes recommendations on how to support farmers in adapting to the consequences of climate change.

Fairtrade Bananas: a Global Assessment of Impact - 2010 (2MB PDF)

Summary and Fairtrade Foundation response - Impact of Fairtrade Bananas (3MB PDF)

Summary and response in Spanish - El impacto del banano de comercio justo (0.2MB PDF)

Accounting for nearly a quarter of all banana sales in the UK, Fairtrade bananas are widely acknowledged to have moved into the mainstream. As such the Fairtrade Foundation commissioned this impact study in order to better understand and enhance the effect of Fairtrade in this sector, both in small producer organizations and for plantation workers. The study is based on extensive research across the banana supply chain and provides recommendations for the future work of Fairtrade. Since publication the Fairtrade Foundation management have provided a summary and response to the recommendations.

The Last Ten Years: A Comprehensive Review of the Literature on the Impact of Fairtrade - 2009 (0.3MB PDF)

Fairtrade sales have increased dramatically over the past years. In line with this growth there is increasing demand to measure and demonstrate the difference that Fairtrade has for producers, workers and their families. This paper is a review of the published literature on Fairtrade’s impact, commissioned by the Fairtrade Foundation and conducted by Natural Resources Institute in 2009.

The impact of Fairtrade labelling on small-scale producers - 2009 (0.5MB PDF)

This 2009 report outlines the findings of studies on Fairtrade's impact on small producer organizations. The six case studies chronicle how Fairtrade supports development. The research includes cocoa, coffee, banana and mango producers from different countries in Latin America.

Étude de l’impact du commerce équitable sur les organisations et familles paysannes et leurs territoires dans la filière café des Yungas de Bolivie - 2005 (0.5MB PDF)

This study analyses the impact of Fair Trade on rural organizations and families in the Yungas region of Bolivia.

Fairtrade Bananas Impact Study - 2004 (0.1MB PDF)

A study on the impact of Fairtrade bananas on the Dominican economy.

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