Impact research and evaluation studies

As part of our commitment to understand the impact of our work better, the Fairtrade system commissions 2-3 outcome and impact evaluations each year.

Evaluations are typically conducted for major products every three years but may also focus across products in one particular country or on particular themes across products and countries. Such impact evaluations commissioned by Fairtrade are led by reputed and independent research institutions with expertise in researching the effects of certification.

Evaluations give us in-depth insight into how Fairtrade is performing against its Theory of Change. They also enable us to identify and understand areas of challenge where we can take action to improve our effectiveness. Fairtrade follows best practice in publishing internally commissioned impact evaluations in an open and transparent manner to support wider knowledge and understanding of the Fairtrade impacts and to hold ourselves accountable to where we need to improve. Here are some of our latest impact reports. 

Baseline study: Fairtrade certification in the banana hired labour sector

Banana imageFairtrade commissioned independent consultants LEI Wageningen UR to conduct this study to provide baseline data for future impact assessments. The study gathered data on a range of socio-economic indicators to assess the impact of Fairtrade certification on workers in the banana hired labour sector in the Dominican Republic, Colombia and Ghana. Initial findings show that Fairtrade certification has a direct, positive impact on workers’ income, empowerment, collective bargaining and living standards. The study also highlights key areas for future focus.

LEI banana report FINAL April 2016

LEI banana research management response FINAL

LEI banana research summary FINAL 

Assessing the benefits of Fairtrade orange juice for Brazilian smallholder farmers 

Fairtrade orange juice has been on the Fairtrade market for almost 15 years with the majority coming from Fairtrade farmers in Brazil. This study by BSD Consulting of Brazil assesses the impact of Fairtrade for growers' cooperatives in Brazil. Three groups were selected in the major orange producing regions of Brazil. The study assessed social, economic and environmental benefits for the farmers and their workers.

Full research report

Summary and response from commissioning agencies


Fairtrade impact in Colombia’s banana sector

Colombian banana workersFairtrade bananas have been on the market for nearly 19 years and are one of the most successful Fairtrade products in many markets – up to 50 percent market share in some countries. The study by CODER assesses the impact of Fairtrade for banana farmers in small producer organizations and workers on plantations in Colombia. The study concludes that Fairtrade, along with the support of other organizations, and the introduction of labour unions have contributed to a revival of the banana sector in Colombia, and greater respect for human and labour rights. The study also highlights key challenges and makes useful recommendations on how to address them.

Full research report

Summary and response from commissioning agencies


Fairtrade impact on worker empowerment in Ecuadorian flower plantations

Ecuador flower farmOver the past ten years, flowers have become a major product category for Fairtrade. In 2012, 536 million Fairtrade flower stems were sold. This report by independent researcher Angus Lyall summarizes the results of a series of workshops held with workers on three Fairtrade-certified flower farms in Ecuador. It confirms that Fairtrade’s approach can yield important benefits for workers. However, the study also highlights challenges and makes useful recommendations on how to address them.

Full research report

Summary and response from commissioning agencies


Fairtrade in Malawi

MalawiFairtrade has commissioned a long-term study over three phases to understand the difference that Fairtrade’s work makes to farmers and workers in the tea, sugar and groundnuts sectors in Malawi. These research papers highlight the social and economic effects of Fairtrade while recognising the challenges ahead if it is to deepen its impact. With two phases of the study complete, findings illustrate the real difference that certification and sales have made to farmer organisations and living conditions. The third phase is planned for 2015-16. The assessment was carried out by the Natural Resources Institute at the University of Greenwich in collaboration with the Malawi Fairtrade Network, Fairtrade Africa and the Fairtrade Foundation, UK.

Phase 1 report - Taking Root: Fairtrade in Malawi (2011)

Phase 2 report - Branching Out: Fairtrade in Malawi (2013)


Fairtrade’s impact on poverty reduction through rural development

India teaThis study illustrates how Fairtrade impacts on poverty reduction through rural development. Based on six case studies of six different producer organizations in South America, Africa and Asia, the study employs an ambitious design with target and control groups and presents findings from extensive qualitative and quantitative data analysis. With its specific focus on rural development, the study provides useful insights onto the impact of Fairtrade beyond the level of producer organizations.

Full research report

Summary of results

Summary and response from commissioning agencies


Fairtrade Cotton: Assessing Impact in Mali, Senegal, Cameroon and India

cotton woolSince 2004 Fairtrade has been tackling the inequality of the global cotton trade. This report presents the challenges faced by Fairtrade in targeting poor cotton farmers at the very end of a long and complex supply chain. However it also highlights the difference that Fairtrade has made to cotton farming communities so far and provides recommendations on how Fairtrade cotton can fulfil its potential in the future.

Full research report

Summary of report

Summary and response from commissioning agencies