How we conduct and use research

Fairtrade commissions and encourages research and evaluations that can enhance our learning and impact.

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An auditor speaks with a Costa Rican Fairtrade coffee farmer. Audit reports are one source of data for Fairtrade research.
Image © Tatiana Marin / FLOCERT

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.

Fairtrade regularly commissions outcome and impact evaluations on various products and topics. 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. Whenever Fairtrade commissions research we ask researchers to follow the the Fairtrade research ethics policy to assure that our ethical principles are respected.

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 [at]

External research

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.

To this end, Fairtrade International is actively looking for medium- to long-term academic research collaborations. To give some guidance, we maintain a Fairtrade Research Agenda that lists our highest-priority topics, and we encourage external researchers to work with us on these topics if they are of interest. If you are a PhD-level researcher or beyond, and are planning new research on Fairtrade, we would love to know more about your research plans and explore possibilities for collaboration. Please get in touch by emailing academicpartnerships [at]

Student research

Research students at the secondary, undergraduate, masters and PhD levels regularly contact Fairtrade International, national Fairtrade organizations, and Producer Networks to request support with their research assignments. The support requested varies but often includes access to data, access to Fairtrade member organizations, or access to Fairtrade producer organizations.

High quality work by research students has the potential to provide an effective way for Fairtrade to gain learning on lesser studied products and countries as well as focused studies on some of Fairtrade’s thematic areas such as gender and climate change. However, Fairtrade must weigh the projected gain of research projects against limited staff and financial resources.

All research engagements with students are guided by our student research policy. If, after reviewing the policy, you believe that you fit the criteria for engagement, please submit a one-page research summary to studentresearch [at]