Mainstreaming Fair Trade Coffee: From Partnership to Traceability

Laura T. Raynolds
Publication Date: 
This article analyzes the recent growth of Fair Trade and the mainstreaming of this previously alternative arena.
Focusing on coffee, I identify a continuum of buyers ranging from ‘‘mission-driven” enterprises that uphold alternative ideas and practices based on social, ecological, and place-based commitments, to ‘‘quality-driven” firms that selectively foster Fair Trade conventions to ensure reliable supplies of excellent coffee, to ‘‘market-driven” corporations that largely pursue commercial/industrial conventions rooted in price competition and product regulation. Using a commodity network approach, my analysis illuminates the impacts of diverse buyer relations on producer groups and how relations are in some cases shifting from partnership to traceability.