Table of Contents

Handbook of Research on Fair Trade

Handbook of Research on Fair Trade

Edited by Laura T. Raynolds and Elizabeth A. Bennett

Fair trade critiques the historical inequalities inherent in international trade and seeks to promote social justice by creating alternative networks linking marginalized producers (typically in the global South) with progressive consumers (typically in the global North). The first of its kind, this volume brings together 43 of the foremost fair trade scholars from around the world and across the social sciences. The Handbook serves as both a comprehensive overview and in-depth guide to dominant perspectives and concerns. Chapters analyze the rapidly growing fair trade movement and market, exploring diverse initiatives and organizations, production and consumption regions, and food and cultural products. Written for those new to fair trade as well as those well versed in this domain, the Handbook is an invaluable resource for scholars and practitioners interested in global regulation, multi-stakeholder initiatives, social and environmental certification, ethical labeling, consumer activism, and international development.

Chapter 15: Fair trade and mainstreaming

Ronan Le Velly

Subjects: development studies, agricultural economics, development economics, development studies, economics and finance, agricultural economics, development economics, international economics, political economy, environment, agricultural economics, politics and public policy, human rights, political economy, regulation and governance


The expansion of fair trade sales beyond the radical venues where the movement was born has generated much debate. On the one hand, it has been described as a success. In this way of thinking, sales growth and participation of supermarket chains and transnational firms can be considered levers for generating benefits for producers’ organizations and evidence that fair trade is not a form of charity. For instance, Max Havelaar France, the French member of Fairtrade International, displays on its website the growing number of licensed traders and of certified products, the growing value of their sales and the number of certified producers’ organizations that export to the French market. It advertises that in 2012, Max Havelaar France’s 345 million euros in Fairtrade sales benefited some 400 producers’ organizations in the global South (Max Havelaar France 2014). On the other hand, the expansion of fair trade sales into mainstream markets is argued to have compromised the efficacy of fair trade as a tool of ethical consumption and to have degraded the quality of relationships in fair trade supply chains. As we shall see, this kind of accusation has been made by researchers as well as some fair trade promoters. In France, the strategy of Max Havelaar France has been widely criticized by activists and organizations like Minga, which dispute the sale of fair trade products in supermarkets and collaboration with transnational companies like Nestlé.

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