Alternative, unconventional or business-as-usual? implications and experiences of fairtrade producers in the free market

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Pemberton, Marianne

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University of Guelph


This thesis is an investigation of the experiences of a selection of Fairtrade coffee producers working with for Nestle's Fairtrade Partners' Blend. The purpose of this study was to examine how market-driven retailers deliver on Fairtrade and interact with producers, and to improve the representation of producer experiences in Fairtrade research. This study builds on previous studies looking at the "future" of Fairtrade in the mainstream market. Qualitative case study research was conducted in El Salvador in 2009 with Fairtrade producers and key informants to determine the extent to which producers identify differences among different buyers, and how producers experience Fairtrade. Findings indicate that some producers do not identify with the alternative aspects of Fairtrade, nor do they differentiate between retailers or identify partnerships with their Northern retailers. Rather, producers and Southern actors identify Fairtrade as one of many coffee agencies in a conventional market, though with improved benefits and terms of trade.



Fairtrade producers, free market, Nestle's Fairtrade Partners' Blend, alternative, coffee agencies