For Immediate Release
September 10, 2003


CANCUN, MEXICO - The Fair Trade industry in North America and the Pacific Rim grew an impressive 37% over the past year, according to the 2003 Report on Fair Trade Trends, sponsored by the Fair Trade Federation and the International Federation for Alternative Trade, and published by Co-op America. Total Fair Trade sales in the US, Canada, and Pacific Rim reached US$250.6 million.

Highlighting substantial growth in domestic import, sales, and employment, the report is good news for citizen groups concerned about worker mistreatment and corporate-led growth. The report’s findings indicate growing consumer demand for goods that are traded through direct partnerships between economically disadvantaged artisans and farmers, and marketers in developed markets in the North.

"This report demonstrates that Fair Trade businesses - companies that empower economically disadvantaged farmers and artisans, and respect the environment - are growing and thriving. This is in sharp contrast to flagging sales of conventional businesses that operate in a dominant global trade model that forces wages downward, degrades the environment, disrupts communities and destroys cultural values,” said Chris O'Brien, Associate Director of the Fair Trade Federation, and Managing Director of the Co-op America Business Network.

“Fair Trade is clearly poised for continued growth in handcrafts and commodities. It also has a clear impact on growing consumer awareness of global trade issues," according to Katherine Anderson, Information Coordinator, International Federation for Alternative Trade.


  • Total Fair Trade sales in the US, Canada, and Pacific Rim increased 37% during 2002, from $183 million to $251 million. North America accounted for $180 million, up 44% from 2001, while the Pacific Rim topped $70 million, a growth rate of 23%.
  • Certified Fair Trade coffee demonstrated the greatest growth of any single Fair Trade product, with sales increasing by 54%, from 6.8m lbs. in 2001, to 10.6m lbs in 2002.
  • At the beginning of 2003, there were over 3,200 people employed by Fair Trade organizations in the US, Canada and the Pacific Rim.
Coffee, crafts, clothing, housewares, and a wide variety of other products made by workers in developing countries compose the range of Fair Trade products and companies, which are screened to ensure fair wages, cooperative workplaces, consumer education, environmental sustainability, financial and technical support, respect for cultural identity and public accountability. By adhering to social criteria and environmental principles, Fair Trade organizations foster a more equitable and sustainable system of production and trade that benefits people and their communities.

For a full copy of the Report, visit

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Contact: Amanda Johnson
Co-op America; (202) 872-5314