Policy briefings and reports

We work with government, parliament, business, civil society and other stakeholders to advocate for policies that will make trade fair.

To find out about what Fairtrade International campaigns about, go to their programmes page here.

Current issues

Brexit and fair trade - as the UK renegotiates trade deals, let’s make them fair.

The UK is about to renegotiate trade arrangements with a large number of countries around the world. This could have serious consequences for millions of jobs and livelihoods in very poor countries. Government must instead ensure that changes in trade arrangements lead to fairer trading relationships that help end poverty.

Delivering a 'Fairtrade Brexit' (2018)

Briefing on the Trade & Customs Bills, House of Lords (2018)

Briefing on the Trade & Customs Bills - Report Stage (2018)

Briefing for MPs ahead of second readings of the Trade & Customs Bills (2017/18)

Trade Justice Movement briefing on proposals for enhanced transparency and parliamentary scrutiny of trade deals post-Brexit (2017)

Briefing outlining key trade & development issues relating to Brexit (2017)

Fairtrade Foundation report: Brexit: Let’s Change Trade for Good (2017)

Download our policy briefing and discussion paper

Achieving living incomes for cocoa farmers

We are a nation of chocolate lovers – we each eat 8.4kg of chocolate on average every year. That’s more than or any other European country, and demand is growing. Yet, despite chocolate being a booming business, the majority of cocoa farmers in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana live in abject poverty. Our report below outlines how governments, chocolate companies, traders, retailers and shoppers can help make living incomes a reality for these farmers:

Craving a Change in Chocolate (2019)

Download our parliamentary briefing

Fairtrade and the Commonwealth

Ahead of the Commonwealth Heads of Government summit, which took place in Windsor in April 2018, we called for a prioritisation of ‘Fair Trade for Development’. We asked leaders to embrace an agenda which supported women’s economic empowerment, tackled modern slavery and promoted living incomes and living wages. We also called for trade policies across the Commonwealth to be guided by the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Read more in the report below:

Fairtrade and the Commonwealth: A Five Point Plan for Prosperity, Sustainability and Fairness

For more information see our press release.

Do consumers support regulation for fairer trading practices?

Fairtrade offers consumers a way to make a positive impact on the livelihoods of farmers and workers in developing countries.  However with retailer price competition the order of the day in an increasingly challenging economic environment, rock-bottom prices for farmers pose a real and urgent threat to the sustainability of UK supply of some important foods, as well as undermining poverty reduction goals. 

In May 2016, the Fairtrade Foundation commissioned GlobeScan to undertake consumer research to assess whether strengthening the UK’s regulatory framework would be welcomed by the majority of UK consumers who want fairly traded, sustainable food and are at risk from the long-term impacts of unfair and unsustainable trade.

The study found that the British public strongly believe that both government and business can and should be doing more to ensure future food sustainability - government in particular is perceived as falling short of consumer expectations.

Read the Fairtrade Foundation's briefing on the research

GlobeScan: Assessing Public Support for regulation for fairer trading practices

Delivering the Sustainable Development Goals through Trade – a five-point agenda for policy coherence

World governments are looking to trade as a driver of economic growth and poverty reduction, which is why trade is central to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – the new global poverty reduction and sustainability framework to be adopted in September 2015.

But trade is a blunt tool that can harm, as well as help, poverty reduction. And government trade policy must be joined up, or the needs of poor people are easily undermined. Otherwise it's a case of giving with one hand and taking with the other.

We have set out a five-point agenda for the UK government and the EU to ensure the SDGs deliver for farmers and workers.  We are calling on government to show its hand and make trade fair.

Delivering the Sustainable Development Goals through Trade – a five-point agenda for policy coherence 

Our update on the five-point agenda sets out further analysis in support of our call for policy coherence.  It focuses on three key issues where failure of governments to effectively join up policy and put the poorest first will result in non-delivery of the SDGs:

  • the impact of CAP reform on sugar producers in developing countries
  • the forthcoming WTO Ministerial Conference (MC10)
  • the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).
Delivering the Sustainable Development Goals through trade – Update (September 2015)

Show Your Hand: Make Trade Fair campaign 

Equal Harvest: Removing the barriers to women’s participation in smallholder agriculture

Despite making up almost half the agricultural workforce in developing countries, women are under-represented in the membership and leadership of small producer organisations (SPOs).  Although Fairtrade Standards for SPOs support gender equality and the participation of women, just 22 per cent of registered farmers are women.  Our latest study looked at producer groups growing bananas in the Dominican Republic, cotton in India, and tea in Kenya, and found that legal, social and cultural norms often act as barriers to women's participation.

Changing deep-rooted behaviours and attitudes relating to the role of women requires a concerted and collaborative effort, and should not be reduced to quotas or targets – the focus must be on removing barriers, so that women farmers have the same opportunities and can choose to participate if they wish. 

Our report calls on businesses, governments, NGOs and other agencies to support and incentivise producer organisations to address gender equality, so that women farmers can get their fair share of the benefits of international trade.

Equal Harvest: Removing the barriers to women’s participation in smallholder agriculture – Full report

Equal Harvest: Removing the barriers to women’s participation in smallholder agriculture – Executive Summary

Sugar Crash 

Reform of the EU sugar market is set to put the livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of smallholder farmers in Africa, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) and Least Developed Countries (LDC) at risk.

Sugar Crash, a new report from the Fairtrade Foundation, is calling for the EU to convene and lead a new initiative, bringing together government, business and civil society.

Sugar Crash - how EU reform is endangering the livelihoods of small farmers

A seat at the table? Ensuring Smallholder farmers are heard in Public-private partnerships

Governments and NGOs are increasingly partnering with the private sector to tackle global hunger and poverty. A seat at the table? Ensuring Smallholder farmers are heard in Public-private partnerships, a study of agricultural PPPs in Ghana, Malawi and Kenya, identifies examples of PPPs failing to engage effectively with smallholder farmers.  This can lead to partnerships that miss or ignore smallholder farmers’ priorities or in the worst case scenario, actually aggravate local social and economic disparities and exacerbate poverty

The report asks governments, donors and companies to go further to ensure that smallholder farmers are given the opportunity, space and information to play an active role in the design and development of agricultural PPPs – should they wish to participate in them.

A seat at the table?  Ensuring Smallholder farmers are heard in Public-private partnerships – Full report

A seat at the table?  Ensuring Smallholder farmers are heard in Public-private partnerships – Executive Summary

Policy Reports

We are continuously deepening our understanding of how we can deliver greater impact for producers. 

Competition Law and Sustainability

Our 2019 report, Competition Law and Sustainability, brings together the findings of a series of interviews with stakeholders in the UK grocery sector to explore how competition law was effecting efforts to collaborate together to tackle sustainability issues. The near-unanimous message is that competition law is perceived to be a barrier to tackling low farm-gate prices.

Competition Law and Sustainability report

Our 2017 report, Sustainability Collaborations, outlines the potential consumer benefits that could be gained from collaboration between businesses for sustainability purposes. The study considered a pre-competitive hypothetical collaborative sustainability initiative in the British retail market for fresh pineapples, and made the case that this initiative had a "reasonable case" for competition law-compliance.

Sustainability Collaborations report 

Britain's Bruising Banana Wars

In February 2014 we launched our campaign to Make Bananas Fair. Our report, Britain’s Bruising Banana Wars found that there are deep-rooted problems within the banana industry and that while the cost of producing bananas over the past 10 years has doubled, prices in UK supermarkets have halved.

We are calling on the UK Government to step in and investigate the impact of retailer pricing practices.

Pascal Liu, senior economist at the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations and manager of the World Banana Forum, says: ‘If we look at the root causes of the lack of sustainability in the banana sector, it’s mostly linked to very low producer prices, which are mainly due to low consumer prices.  Producers do not get paid enough for their bananas so that they can invest in sustainable production methods.’

How businesses are going further to make international supply chains work for smallholder farmers

Our 2013 report, How businesses are going further to make international supply chains work for smallholder farmers identifies examples of win-win partnerships for both trading and manufacturing businesses and smallholder farmers and their communities alike.

Policy Briefings and Position Papers 

Fairtrade is a thought leader on the issues that matter to farmers and workers. Find out more about our vision to make trade fair.

Wilbert Flinterman, Senior Advisor, Workers’ Rights and Trade Union Relations, Fairtrade International, says: ‘So just how much is a living wage? Workers themselves must give input on their costs. A proper living wage needs to reflect how farm workers live, showing a cost of living that employers, workers and their unions can consider realistic and use in collective bargaining.’

Find out more about

Fairness in trade