• Awarded: 2005
  • Issue Areas: Economic Opportunity · Livelihoods · Ocean Ecosystems · Responsible Supply Chains · Smallholder Productivity · Standards · Sustainable Markets
  • Region: Caribbean · Central America · Central and Southern Asia · Eastern and Southern Africa · Eastern Asia · North America · South America · Southeast Asia · West and Central Africa
  • Web:
  • About the Organization

    Fair Trade USA (formerly TransFair USA) is the leading third-party certifier of Fair Trade products in the United States. They seek to empower family farmers and workers around the world, while enriching the lives of those struggling in poverty.

    Fair Trade USA audits and certifies transactions between US companies and their international suppliers to guarantee that the farmers and workers producing Fair Trade Certified goods were paid fair prices and wages, work in safe conditions, protect the environment, and receive community development funds to empower and uplift their communities.

    Fair Trade USA educates consumers, brings new manufacturers and retailers into the Fair Trade system, and provides farmers with tools, training, and resources to thrive as international businesspeople.

    Through direct, equitable trade, farming and working families are able to eat better, keep their kids in school, improve health and housing, and invest in the future. Fair Trade works to keep families, local economies, the natural environment, and the larger community strong today and for generations to come.

    Only a tiny fraction of goods sold in the global market are produced in systems that independently verify compliance with fair pricing, labor, and environmental standards.

    Fair Trade USA audits and certifies goods produced in compliance with standards, and educates consumers and others in the supply chain.

    When major brands and retailers source certified goods, local producers can support their families and manage resources responsibly.

    More than 1.3 million farmers and workers in 70 countries participate in Fair Trade.

    Ambition for Change

    Driven by needs to secure their supply chains and meet consumer demand, merchants rely on Fair Trade and other credible certifications to ensure their companies’ growth and profitability. Producers earn sustainable incomes and have the ability to invest in themselves, their farms, and their communities.

    Path to Scale

    Increase Market Share
    Campaigns to educate consumers and enlist their commitment to Fair Trade buying, together with contracts and partnerships with major brands and retailers, are expected to increase demand for certified goods and bring Fair Trade into the mainstream.

    Business Model

    Fee-based service business, earning more than 80% of operating revenues; philanthropic contributions close the gap between revenue and expenses.

    After working for more than a decade in Central America and helping Nicaraguan coffee farmers improve their livelihoods through an organic coffee export cooperative, Paul Rice launched Fair Trade USA (previously known as TransFair USA) in 1998 to bring the fair trade movement to the United States. Fair Trade USA, a nonprofit organization, promotes a market model that guarantees farmers and workers a fair price for their products, direct market linkage, and access to credit and support for sustainable agriculture. As the leading third-party certifier of Fair Trade products in North America, Fair Trade USA audits and certifies transactions between companies that offer Fair Trade products and their international suppliers to guarantee compliance with Fair Trade standards and principles. And as a development agency, Fair Trade USA educates consumers, builds supply chains for Fair Trade, brings new manufacturers and retailers into the system, and provides farming communities with the tools, training and resources needed to thrive as international businesspeople.

    Impact & Accomplishments

    • 1.3 million farmers and workers, 5 million total beneficiaries, in more than 70 countries now participate in Fair Trade.
    • In 2013, 154 million pounds of coffee were certified. Since its inception, Fair Trade USA has certified more than 1 billion pounds of coffee.
    • 780 companies in North America now participate in Fair Trade, and more than 12,000 products in 100,000 retail locations across North America carry the Fair Trade label. Product categories range from coffee, tea, and sugar to fruit, flowers, and wine.


    Erin GeigerDirector of Strategic Philanthropy, Fair Trade USA
    Mary Jo CookChief Impact Officer, Fair Trade USA
    Paul RicePresident & CEO, Fair Trade USA

    See All Awardees →