In Spotlights

What is the mission of your organization?
TransFair USA, a member of Fairtrade Labelling Organizations International (FLO), promotes sustainable development through Fair Trade. The organization audits transactions between U.S. companies that offer Fair Trade Certified™ products and the producers of these goods in order to ensure that Fair Trade standards are met. These Fair Trade standards encompass principles that include fair prices, fair labor conditions, direct trade, democratic and transparent organizations, community development and environmental sustainability.  In addition to certifying Fair Trade products, TransFair USA publicizes and promotes Fair Trade and Fair Trade Certified products in the United States.

What is the history of the organization?
Inspired by Fair Trade certifying organizations in other countries, Paul Rice founded TransFair USA in 1998. Rice, who is president and CEO of TransFair USA, had gained experience with rural development through work in Nicaragua and felt that Fair Trade could best promote sustainable development in producing communities. In 1999, TransFair USA began certifying Fair Trade coffee in the United States. Over the past decade, TransFair USA has moved beyond coffee, and it now certifies a range of products that includes tea, cocoa, sugar, spices, produce, flowers, wine, honey, grains and other goods. The Fair Trade market in the United States continues to grow.

What is the current top priority for your organization?
TransFair USA hopes to expand Fair Trade in multiple ways. In addition to deepening the financial benefits for current Fair Trade producers, TransFair USA is expanding the range of producers it works with by entering new markets, such as the apparel market, and researching other areas in which Fair Trade can make a difference. At the core of this mission is TransFair USA’s focus is on promoting Fair Trade products and spreading awareness of Fair Trade, because ultimately consumers do the most to support Fair Trade producers. Fair Trade already has a strong presence with leading brands in the United States like Ben & Jerry’s, Green & Blacks, Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts, and now TransFair USA’s priority is increasing awareness among consumers throughout the nation.

What is one unknown fact about your organization?
TransFair USA is a nonprofit organization, but it operates on a market-based model that draws support from conscientious consumers. While many people may think that the global recession has dampened consumers’ appetite for Fair Trade products, this isn’t the case. In fact, Fair Trade sales expanded in the face of the recession in 2009, reaching an estimated $1.2 billion in the United States. In one example of Fair Trade bucking the economy’s general downward trend, TransFair USA certified more than 100 million pounds of Fair Trade coffee in 2009 and provided farming communities with $45 million in additional income, $14 million of which will be invested in development programs in these communities.