Fresh Food

Fair Trade Global Sales Top $9 Billion

U.S. now third-largest market for fair trade goods, with bananas, avocados, cocoa seeing strong growth
Photograph courtesy of Fairtrade

Global sales of fair trade products rose by 8% in 2017, reaching nearly $9.2 billion and generating a record amount of Fairtrade Premium funds of more than $193 million for farmers’ and workers’ organizations, according to a new report by Fairtrade America.

In the U.S., volumes of fair trade products, including bananas, avocados and cocoa, grew significantly, with retail sales topping $1 billion, making the nation now the third-largest market for fair trade goods behind the U.K. and Germany. U.S. sales of bananas and avocados rose 51% and 58%, respectively, while cocoa increased by 33% and coffee saw a 24.5% sales increase, according to the report.

fairtrade logo

With a rising awareness of the social and environmental impacts of products and practices in the food industry today, consumers are increasingly making more informed purchase decisions. According to a report by New York-based market research firm Nielsen, shoppers are actively seeking products with sustainability claims and expect the manufacturers they reward with their purchasing power to operate responsibly.

While sales of chocolate products with fair trade claims make up just 0.1% of total chocolate share, dollar sales growth (10%) doubled the category’s growth (5%) in 2017, according to Nielsen’s “What’s Sustainability Got to do With It” report. Similarly, coffee products with fair trade labels on their packaging experienced dollar sales growth of 21%. 

fairtrade cocoa
Photograph courtesy of Fairtrade

In 2017, Fairtrade America worked with more than 1.6 million farmers and workers across 75 countries to improve the sustainability of their supply chain through strategies such as achieving living incomes and wages, strengthening the position of women and young people, supporting communities to mitigate the effects of climate change and working with partners to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. Today, more than 30,000 products with the fair trade-certified label are available in 150 countries.

In addition to selling their goods on fair terms, farmers’ and workers’ organizations received more than $193 million—a 19% increase from the previous year—of Fairtrade Premium funds to invest in projects of their choice, including infrastructure, farmer and worker bonuses, and community development.

fairtrade coffee
Photograph courtesy of Fairtrade

However, decreasing market prices for some fair trade products are posing challenges for farmers, with the market price of coffee dipping below $1 per pound for the first time in 12 years—40-cents below the fair trade minimum price.

“Fair trade’s strong growth is a good sign for farmers and workers, but current market conditions demonstrate that much more needs to be done to truly improve livelihoods,” Stefanie Kruglik, impact and innovation manager for Fairtrade America, said in a statement. “Fair trade is one tool to help farmers and workers achieve a dignified income, but poverty is a complex problem. That’s why Fairtrade works closely with governments, civil society, businesses, farmer, workers and consumers to make trade work for people.”



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