Fair Trade USA to maintain current coffee minimum pricing

Fair Trade USA announced that it will maintain its current minimum pricing and premiums for all coffee sold under its Fair Trade Certified label through the end of 2023.

Simultaneously, it is launching a multi-stakeholder Innovation for Impact Initiative, aimed at building consensus between industry and producers around a more scalable, higher-impact Fair Trade Certified programme.

Fair Trade USA’s announcement follows a comprehensive stakeholder consultation over the last three months. Through surveys and direct interviews, Fair Trade USA engaged over 500 roasters, importers, and retailers and nearly 400 producer organisations.

“Through our recent listening tour, we heard clearly from stakeholders that to grow our impact for farmers, workers, companies, and consumers, we need to innovate and renew the Fair Trade coffee model. The time is now,” said Paul Rice, founder & CEO, Fair Trade USA.

To guide and support the Innovation for Impact Initiative, Fair Trade USA is creating a diverse, global Coffee Impact Advisory Board. Rüdiger Meyer, the founder and former CEO of FLOCERT, will be board chair. Other distinguished members include Lindsey Bolger, former SVP and managing director of Keurig Trading; Carlos Vargas, general manager of CoopeTarrazú, the largest fair trade coffee cooperative in Costa Rica; and Guido Fernandez, EVP of the Colombian Coffee Federation. The rest of the board will be formally announced in the next few weeks.

An independent organisation with a 25-year track record of market- and movement-building, Fair Trade USA is not required to follow pricing set by Fairtrade International (FLO). Its past adherence to their minimum price and premium was purely voluntary.

Rice founded Fair Trade USA after returning from 11 years in Nicaragua, where he organised and ran the country’s first Fair Trade coffee cooperative. Over its 25-year history, Fair Trade USA has partnered with more than 1,700 companies across dozens of product categories. Over 65% of US consumers now recognise its Fair Trade Certified label. Cumulatively, the organisation has generated more than $1 billion in financial impact for farmers and workers worldwide.

As background, on 30 March 2023, Fairtrade International (FLO) announced it will raise its coffee minimum price and organic differential, effective 1 August 2023.  To ensure that its stakeholders were properly engaged and heard, Fair Trade USA conducted its own stakeholder consultation that began in April and ran through June 2023, leading to the decisions being announced today. Fair Trade USA will publish a full report on the findings of its consultation in the coming weeks.

“Fair Trade USA has a track record of innovation and real impact in farming communities around the world,” said Meyer. “Its global stakeholder community is poised to co-create the next phase of the Fair Trade Certified model to generate even greater value for participants in the global coffee trade.”

“I’ve been organising coffee farmers and leading coffee cooperatives for more than 40 years,” said Vargas. “I am eager to contribute my perspective as Fair Trade USA innovates to address needs more effectively and generate much more economic benefits for the farmers.”

Little will change in the months ahead for importers, roasters, and retailers currently working with Fair Trade USA. Minimum price, social premium, and organic differential all will remain the same. Authorised producers and cooperatives also will remain the same. New guidance on contracting and reporting will be issued in the coming weeks, but changes are expected to be minor. The Fair Trade USA team will continue to support its 500+ coffee industry partners through the transition.

For more information about Fair Trade USA, visit the website.

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