Fair Trade Standards, Corporate Participation, and Social Movement Responses in the United States

Daniel Jaffee
Publication Date: 
This article examines the development of and contestation over the standards for certified fair trade, with particular attention to the U.S. context.
The article charts fair trade’s rapid growth in the United States since the 1999 advent of formal certification, explores the controversies generated by the strategy of market mainstreaming in the sector, and focuses on five key issues that have generated particularly heated contention within the U.S. fair trade movement. It offers a theoretical framework based in the literatures on agrifood systems, social movements, and public-choice economics, for understanding the corporate response to alternative markets such as fair trade. The article suggests a typology of responses by social movement actors to this increased corporate participation, and assesses the relevance of the U.S. case for the future prospects of fair trade, both in other national contexts and as an international movement.