TransFair USA

By Rick Aubry, Greg Powell
2004 | Case No. SI39
TransFair USA, the U.S. fair trade labeling arm of the Fair Trade Labeling Organization (FLO), faced strategic challenges in 2003. The Fair Trade label denoted coffee (and other products) sold at a price high enough to allow small certified farmers to earn a living wage. TransFair, like the other fair trade organizations worldwide, enjoyed an exclusive niche status in the United States. In 2003 Fair Trade Certified™ coffee accounted for 3-5 percent of all coffee sold in the U.S., a substantial accomplishment given that TransFair was founded in 1998. Paul Rice, founder, president, and chief executive of TransFair USA, wanted to push Fair Trade Certified™ coffee beyond its niche status, into the mainstream. In doing so he faced the challenge of convincing uninformed mainstream consumers and skeptical large scale coffee roasters to buy Fair Trade Certified™ coffee, and FLO to allow TransFair to certify large coffee growing estates.
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