Fairtrade aims to enable farmers and workers to move up the value chain, build stronger businesses and fairer workplaces, and access new markets. To evaluate our progress towards this, we use Fairtrade’s Theory of Change  to analyse, learn and improve our work.

We are strengthening our monitoring, evaluation and learning (MEL) system. In 2015, we launched a digital data collection tool to generate better quality data from producers across a wider range of indicators. This producer data enables businesses to understand the impact of their Fairtrade commitment. MEL tools also allow analysis of market trends for different products and provide guidance on mitigating risks faced by Fairtrade producers. We have created MEL frameworks for our work in programme areas such as gender, climate change, and workers’ rights, and for key products.

As part of our learning process, we use findings from commissioned and external research to identify challenging areas and improve our impact. Fairtrade was ranked in the top 2 of 48 NGOs in BOND’s 2015 NGO Transparency Review for systematically publishing all evaluations. Read more

We came out on top in Finnwatch’s 2015 assessment of the quality of 16 social responsibility monitoring schemes. German product testing consumer magazine Stiftung Warentest also found Fairtrade to be highly credible and trustworthy.


Evaluating our Services to Producers

We regularly survey Fairtrade producers to determine their satisfaction with the services provided. The 2015 survey, conducted by INCCAS (Intercultural Consultancy & Studies), found that producer satisfaction was high (89 percent). However, producers also identified services which could be improved, such as support in seizing market opportunities, and connecting them to other service providers. These findings informed the devolution of producer services to the producer networks, and our programme priorities for 2016. Download the report  (PDF)

Fairer Fruit: Fairtrade’s Impact in the Banana Industry

This report draws on five studies, including the latest research on Fairtrade certification in the banana hired labour sector, and covers Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, the Dominican Republic, the Windward Islands and Ghana. It compares the research findings against Fairtrade’s aims, as set out in our Theory of Change. The report illustrates how businesses’ investments impact banana farmers and workers around the world, and how we can deepen that impact. Download the report (PDF)


Building a Good Base

Over the past 12 months we have commissioned baseline studies to get accurate assessments of farmers’ and workers’ current situations against which we can then measure progress over the years to come. Two have been published so far:

Baseline study: Fairtrade certification in the banana hired labour sector

LEI Wageningen conducted a baseline study on the impact of Fairtrade certification on banana plantation workers in the Dominican Republic, Colombia and Ghana. Findings show that Fairtrade certification has a direct, positive impact on workers’ income, empowerment, collective bargaining and living standards. The study also highlights key areas for future focus, including raising awareness of grievance and sexual harassment policies, improving the position of women and migrant workers, and ensuring compliance with health and safety procedures.
View a summary (PDF)  | Download the study (PDF)  | Read our response (PDF)

Baseline Study: Fairtrade Cotton in West Africa

Aidenvironment collected data from producer organizations in Mali, Burkina Faso and Senegal to measure Fairtrade’s impact on the cotton industry. The study found that Fairtrade certified producers have better access to services and training and benefit from social and environmental programmes. Future evaluations will measure progress resulting from the introduction of the Fairtrade Cotton Program.
View a summary (PDF) | Download the study (PDF) | Read our response (PDF)

View more impact reports and research on Fairtrade

What's next?

  • We have commissioned additional baselines studies – in coffee and cocoa – which will be published in 2016. We will also publish a study assessing Fairtrade’s interventions in global value chains and the impact on fairness in trade.
  • Further research is planned to assess our work with tea and sugar producers.
  • We will pilot the second and third stages of our plan to strengthen our monitoring system: producer networks coordinating data collection from field visits, and longitudinal studies of Fairtrade’s impact on farms and households.