Fair Trade USA announced key elements of its Innovation for Impact Initiative — a multi-stakeholder engagement and design lab aimed at developing a more scalable, higher-impact Fair Trade Certified coffee program.

To drive this initiative, Fair Trade USA is partnering with IDEO.org, an award-winning design consulting firm specializing in innovation for social impact. IDEO.org will deeply engage producers, industry, and other key stakeholders in the design process; develop prototypes for rapid testing and learning; help evaluate results; and support the subsequent roll-out of new program features, all with an eye toward increasing impact, it says.

Fair Trade USA also introduced the members of its new Coffee Impact Advisory Board. These leaders and experts from the global coffee supply chain reflect the rich diversity and experience of the Fair Trade Certified community. The Advisory Board will provide critical input and guidance on the Innovation for Impact Initiative and help define support for new program solutions.

The Coffee Impact Advisory Board is chaired by Rüdiger Meyer, the founder and former CEO of FLOCERT. 

Additional distinguished members are as follows:

  • Lindsey Bolger, former senior vice president and managing director of Keurig Trading, USA
  • Jorge Cuevas, chief coffee officer at Sustainable Harvest Importers, USA
  • Guido Fernandez, executive vice president of the Colombian Coffee Federation Inc., Colombia
  • Carlos Murillo, president of EXPOCERT, a leading coffee broker based in Costa Rica, and former Board member of Utz Certified, Fairtrade Netherlands, and Fairtrade Germany
  • Alain Nzigamasabo, senior vice president and general merchandising manager for grocery and beverage at Sam’s Club, USA
  • Abdias Ortiz, CEO of Aprocassi (Fair Trade Coffee Cooperative), 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 Aldea Global (Fair Trade Coffee Cooperative), Nicaragua
  • Matt Smith, executive vice president of supply chain and sustainability at Westrock Coffee, USA
  • Carlos Vargas, CEO of various Fair Trade Coffee Cooperatives, Costa Rica

Fair Trade USA’s announcement follows an extensive stakeholder consultation and listening tour during the past four months. Through surveys and direct interviews, Fair Trade USA engaged more than 500 roasters, importers, and retailers, and nearly 400 producer organizations.

“Our recent listening tour uncovered overwhelming demand across stakeholder groups for program renewal. 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,” said Paul Rice, founder and CEO at Fair Trade USA, in a statement.

Advisory Board Chair Meyer added: “Cumulatively, Fair Trade USA has delivered over $1 billion in impact to farmers and workers worldwide. To generate the next billion, we must enlist the best creative thinking of our global stakeholder community to renew the Fair Trade Certified coffee program. The livelihoods of our producing families depend on it and I am excited to be able to contribute to that effort.”

Rice founded Fair Trade USA in 1998 after returning from 11 years in Nicaragua, where he organized and ran the country’s first Fair Trade coffee cooperative. Fair Trade USA has partnered with more than 1,500 leading industry partners across dozens of product categories. More than 65% of U.S. consumers now recognize its Fair Trade Certified label which they can find across more categories of products than any other social certification in the market.