How Fair is Fairtrade?

Pernille Louise Brodersen

Student thesis: Master thesis


In recent years, there has been a radically change in corporate norms, which has led to an increased willingness for companies to act more responsible to improve their negative impact on society. This thesis will revolve around Fairtrade and how they have created awareness to consumers about the poor trading and working conditions of farmers in the south, which as a result have made many consumers more prone to buy ethical labeled products. To satisfy consumer demand for ethical products, it is often seen that companies develop codes of conducts or comply with certain certification schemes. This thesis will analyze why coffee roasters and retailers are prone to comply with Fairtrade standards, and why they merely certify a small percentage of their coffee. To determine this, various CSR theories has been explored and for the purpose of answering the research question of “How Fair Is Fairtrade”, instrumental, integrative and ethical CSR theories has been looked upon. Furthermore, this thesis will have its focus on how Fairtrade is affecting small-scale coffee farmers lives and how they are benefiting coffee roasters and retailers, which will be resolved in a stakeholder analysis. Opportunities and limitations to Fairtrade will also be highlighted and connected with fairness principles in order to determine how fair Fairtrade is. Additionally, focus will be put on the business approach of Fairtrade and how coffee roasters have grown sensitive to the need to address the social impact they have on producers in developing countries. Fairtrade has succeeded in merging profitability and economic effectiveness with international development objectives, making Fairtrade a valuable model to enlighten coffee roasters on how to move their CSR activities beyond talk and towards actions.

EducationsCand.merc.smc Strategic Market Creation, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2013
Number of pages101