The Role of Technology in Our Future

Coffee farmers in ethiopia

Kalo Dukele and husband Moruma Beriso work at their coffee farm in Homa, Oromiya, Ethiopia. Every year, they produce about 3,000 kg of coffee to be supplied to the fair trade cooperative nearby. Two of their children have completed their education, and the other nine are currently enrolled in school.

For 22 years, Fair Trade USA® has been fighting to improve the lives of small farmers and workers around the globe. We have built a market that includes 1,400 leading brand and retail partners who sold an estimated $7 billion of Fair Trade Certified™ products in 2019, supported by 60 percent consumer awareness of our seal. This has helped empower and improve the lives of millions of families worldwide. 

Today, we are leading the movement into the future by investing in technological innovation to elevate the transparency and traceability of our certified supply chains. This initiative will create new value for all stakeholders in the global fair trade community, helping to accelerate growth and impact for farmers, workers, and their communities. 

This evolution is particularly timely considering producers—especially those in the coffee market—continue to struggle with low commodity prices outside of their control. Across global supply chains, market participants now face added challenges stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic. With travel and traditional modes of business connectivity currently inaccessible, remote and digital modes of relationship building are more critical than ever. Our new technology will help build a bridge between producers and the market.

Intent of Fair Trade USA’s technology transformation:

  • Provide producers with the ability to promote their organizations, their products, and their impact
  • Empower producers to more directly connect with the US market
  • Help producers sell more products on fair trade terms to drive more impact in their communities
  • Give producers more flexibility in how they present and share data about their organization, whether collected by auditors or other means
  • Create a more transparent, traceable fair trade model that is tech-enabled, data-driven, and of greater value to everyone involved, including producers, traders, retailers, and consumers


Producer support 

To drive this transformation forward, Fair Trade USA launched a new initiative called the Producer Support Program (PSP). Initially, this will focus on the coffee sector, but in late 2021 it will be extended to all producer groups. Our goal is to give producers greater access to the North American market, helping them increase sales and creating more opportunities for impact in their lives and communities. In addition to promoting market accessibility, the program will provide connections to enhance premium investment, training, and support services so producers can gain the full benefits of being part of the fair trade community. Technology is the backbone of the PSP and it will manifest in two important ways: the Producer Recognition Program and our new digital platform.


Producer Recognition Program 

Ensuring that producers participating in fair trade are compliant with fair trade standards is core to our mutual credibility, which is why we have developed a Producer Recognition Program that lets producers demonstrate compliance with fair trade standards using their existing FLOCERT certification.   

Producers can register with us by signing an agreement and sending us a copy of their most recent FLOCERT certificate. Once that certificate is verified, producers will receive an Authorization to Trade, allowing them to receive a Fair Trade Premium and Minimum Price (where applicable) on all fair trade sales. Producers and all other businesses buying and selling fair trade products will also submit quarterly transaction reports to Fair Trade USA, allowing us to verify their compliance and ensuring that every product being sold as Fair Trade Certified meets our rigorous standards. 

Programs like these are common in the industry and reflect collaboration among the third-party certification community to coalesce and cover a broad range of labor and environmental assurances. They also help producers keep costs down and demonstrate their social and environmental compliance to multiple buyers and programs. 

Keeping costs low was especially important to us and it’s why our Producer Recognition Program has no additional audit fees. The program also removes redundancy by accepting the rigorous compliance assessments that producers participate in as part of their FLOCERT certification. It’s simple to join and free for all producers who continue to report their transactions in a timely manner.


Digital platform 

Alongside the rollout of the Producer Recognition Program, we are launching new technology features to enable companies across every step of the supply chain to connect like never before. We will be providing producers with access to the Fair Trade Certified network and enabling them to start building new connections immediately. In our new system, producer organizations will be able to create personalized profiles to market themselves to buyers in the US by adding descriptions, photos, videos, and more. Coffee producers will also be able to list their green coffee inventories, helping them increase the amount of their harvest sold on fair trade terms, and share information about their Fundraising projects to reach donors and expand impact.

In addition to leveraging technology to strengthen supply chain relationships, we will also provide easy access to data visualizations that give insights into the supply chains of Fair Trade Certified products. This will empower producers with more information about their buyers and help them trace where their products end up. It will also enable buyers to see more detail about the source of their products and the impact of their fair trade purchases. By enabling digital relationships and delivering supply chain insights, we will strengthen the resilience of fair trade supply chains and increase impact in producer communities around the world.


FLOCERT data  

We will not be renewing our data agreement with Fairtrade International, but will continue to share the same goals of alleviating poverty, enabling sustainable livelihoods, and protecting the environment. We are currently exploring various areas of possible collaboration with Fairtrade International, FLOCERT, and producer networks like the CLAC.

If you have questions please contact Kasi Martin, our head of public relations, at