Document Type

International Studies and Languages


As conscientious shoppers, the fair trade label we see on the coffee we drink from Starbucks and the bananas we buy at the natural food market often assure us of our ethical consumer choices. We should, however, question the accuracy of this marketing to find out where the products we buy actually come from. Are these goods truly traded fairly? Do these products provide equitable wages to farmers and their families in the Southern Hemisphere? This paper will inspect the current state of the fair trade industry as well as offer suggestions for improvement. The positive outcomes of true fair trade are discussed and the role of the Fair Trade Labeling Organization, or FLO, is examined. Additionally, the supposedly eliminated “middleman” is studied to reveal the flaws of the system. Lastly, various perspectives on fair trade are surveyed to develop a broader understanding of how fair trade functions. If properly implemented, fair trade has the ability to significantly reduce the gap between the rich and the poor in the developing world. In closing, suggestions are offered to redesign the fair trade system in order for the purported benefits of equitable trade to become reality.