Impact research and evaluation studies

Fairtrade is committed to understanding and developing our impact, and therefore commissions two or three impact and outcome evaluations a year on the Fairtrade benefits for farmers and workers.

Major Fairtrade products are evaluated on a three yearly basis, sometimes with additional focus on products in a specific country or as part of a particular theme. These types of evaluations are commissioned to independent, trusted research institutes with particular expertise into the effects of certifications.

Evaluations provide an in-depth understanding into how we are performing alongside the Fairtrade Theory of Change. Evaluations allow us to recognize and analyze areas that are proving challenging, where we can implement further action become more effective. In order to hold ourselves accountable, impact evaluations are internally commissioned and openly distributed to encourage greater understanding and knowledge of our system and impacts. See some of our most recent impact reports below.

Cocoa Farmer Household Income in Côte d’Ivoire - 2018

Fairtrade International commissioned True Price, with the Committee on Sustainability Assessment (COSA) and GeoTraceability, to carry out baseline research with smallholder cocoa farmers in Côte d’Ivoire. The study identifies sources of income for cocoa households and calculates an average household income, as well as what a living income would be for the median household in rural Côte d’Ivoire. The study has informed development of Fairtrade’s Living Income Strategy and identifies benefits of Fairtrade, considerations for approaches to reaching a living income, and directions for future research. 

The impact of Fairtrade - 2017

Fairtrade  commissioned the Overseas Development Institute to conduct an in-depth review of recent research to find out to what extent Fairtrade is contributing towards its intended impacts. The review synthesizes results from 45 studies published between 2009 and 2015. It offers comprehensive insights into Fairtrade’s impacts for smallholder producer groups and workers on plantations. The results are analysed according to key themes from the Fairtrade Theory of Change, focusing on Fairtrade’s contribution to our goals of sustainable livelihoods and empowerment for small-scale farmers and agricultural workers. 

Fairtrade and the Colombian banana sector - 2014

Colombian banana workersIn many countries, bananas are the most popular Fairtrade product. As study undertaken by CODER has assessed the Fairtrade benefits for farmers and plantation workers in Colombia. It was found that Fairtrade has helped to revive the Colombian banana sector and promote respect for labor and human rights, alongside support from other organizations and the introduction of unions. The research has also made recommendations for challenges identified in the sector. Learn more about banana farmers and workers.

Worker empowerment on flower plantations in Ecuador - 2014

Ecuador flower farmFlowers have grown to be one of the largest Fairtrade product categories globally in recent years with 610 million Fairtrade flower stems sold in 2013 alone. For this report, an independent researcher undertook a number of workshops with workers on Ecuadorian Fairtrade flower farms. Results confirm that the Fairtrade system can provide workers with important positive benefits, and has highlight areas of improvement with recommendations to address challenges. Learn more about flower workers.

Malawi and Fairtrade - 2011, 2013

MalawiA three phase long-term study has been commissioned in Malawi to understand the Fairtrade benefits for farmers and workers in sugar, tea and peanuts. The research highlights positive social and economic impacts of Fairtrade certification, while also describing future challenges to be overcome in order to deepen Fairtrade’s impact. Two phases of this study are now complete, and provide a picture of positive impact that the Fairtrade system and sales have had on farmers own living conditions and improvements to their organizations. This study is being undertaken by the Natural Resources Institute, University of Greenwich, together with the Malawi Fairtrade Network, the Fairtrade Foundation in the UK and Fairtrade Africa.

Reducing poverty in rural areas - 2012

India teaThrough six producer organizations case studies in Asia, Africa and South America, this research demonstrates how Fairtrade has impacted poverty reduction in rural development. Quantitative and qualitative data was collected and analyzed from both target and control groups. Focusing on rural development, this report provides valuable insight into Fairtrade impacts beyond producer organizations.

The impact of Fairtrade cotton in Cameroon, Senegal, Mali and India - 2011

cotton woolFairtrade cotton standards were established in 2004, aiming to level the playing field in global trade. This report shows the many challenges faced in certifying disadvantaged farmers at the bottom of a complicated supply chain. But it also highlights the positive change that Fairtrade has had for cotton farmers to date, and provides recommendations for greater impact in future.