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Fair Trade USA Names Partners in Coffee Certification Program Renewal

Fair Trade certified

The Fair Trade USA Fair Trade Certified seal.

Fair Trade USA has unveiled the inaugural advisory board and key project partner,, for its “Innovation for Impact Initiative,” which is expected to result in transformations to the Fair Trade USA sustainability certification scheme for coffee.

The keeper of the “Fair Trade Certified” name and seal, Oakland-based Fair Trade USA announced the initiative in July, while simultaneously announcing it was freezing prices in its coffee scheme through at least the end of 2023.

The announcement came as a separate nonprofit organization, Fairtrade International, was set to raise baseline prices for certified green coffees on Aug. 1, due to rising production costs among producers and widespread and sustained poverty among smallholder coffee farmers globally.

Initially founded as a branch of Fairtrade in 1998, Fair Trade USA split from Fairtrade International in 2011 while softening certification standards to allow certification from larger plantation farms.

Until now, Fairtrade USA had voluntarily adopted Fairtrade’s pricing levels, established to help coffee producers maintain baseline prices in a historically volatile global coffee market.

coffee sacks

Coffee sacks. Daily Coffee News file photo.

In July of this year, Fair Trade USA Founder and CEO Paul Rice told DCN that Fairtrade International’s decision to raise minimum prices spurred his organization to engage in consultations with Fair Trade USA stakeholders, including roasters, grocers and producers groups.

“Our recent listening tour uncovered overwhelming demand across stakeholder groups for program renewal,” Rice said in an announcement yesterday. “Coffee producers want to sell more volume on Fair Trade Certified terms. They understand that price alone will not solve their problems. The industry wants greater transparency and data on impact. All stakeholders want a stronger response to climate change. Fair Trade USA will focus on innovation that addresses these core challenges faced by industry and producers.”

As Fair Trade USA moves towards this “program renewal,” it has engaged the nonprofit organizational design firm The group also announced the founding members of a new “Impact Advisory Board,” including chair Rüdiger Meyer, the founder and former CEO of Flocert, the global certification body for Fairtrade.

According to Fair Trade USA, other members of the new board include:

  • Lindsey Bolger, former SVP and managing director of Keurig Trading (USA)
  • Jorge Cuevas, chief coffee officer at Sustainable Harvest Coffee Importers (USA)
  • Guido Fernandez, executive VP of the Colombian Coffee Federation (Colombia)
  • Carlos Murillo, president of EXPOCERT (Costa Rica)
  • Alain Nzigamasabo, senior VP and general merchandising manager for grocery and beverage at Sam’s Club (USA)
  • Abdias Ortiz, CEO of cooperative Aprocassi (Peru)
  • Angela Pelaez, sustainability manager at RGC Coffee Americas (Colombia)
  • Jérôme Perez, global head of sustainability at Nespresso (Switzerland)
  • Ivania Rivera, senior coffee trader at cooperative Aldea Global (Nicaragua)
  • Matt Smith, EVP of supply chain and sustainability at Westrock Coffee (USA)
  • Carlos Vargas, CEO of multiple Fair Trade coffee cooperatives (Costa Rica)

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