Fair Trade: Three Key Challenges for Reaching the Mainstream

Journal of Business Ethics 63 (2):107-118 (2006)
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Abstract

After nearly 20 years of work by activists, fair trade, a movement establishing alternative trading organizations to ensure minimal returns, safe working conditions, and environmentally sustainable production, is now gaining steam, with increasing awareness and availability across a variety of products. However, this article addresses several major remaining challenges: (a) a lack of agreement about what fair trade really means and how it should be certified; (b) uneven awareness and availability across different areas, with marked differences between some parts of Europe and North America that reflect more fundamental debates about distribution; (c) larger questions about the extent of the potential contribution of fair trade to development under the current system, including limitations on the number and types of workers affected and the fair trade focus on commodity goods.

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