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MIT Sloan > LearningEdge > Sustainability > Fair Trade Coffee: The Mainstream Debate
Fair Trade Coffee
Richard M. Locke, Diane Cameron and Cate Reavis
“If you count on everyone to [buy Fair Trade] because of their ideological commitments, you’re going to be stuck in a niche market that doesn’t serve a broad range of people.” – Matt Warning, Development Economist, University of Puget Sound (The Santa Barbara Independent, April 5, 2007)
In 2008, the Fair Trade Coffee market was facing a growth crisis. Many in the industry believed that survival would require mainstreaming Fair Trade Coffee into nonspecialty brands like Folgers and Maxwell House. However, the question was whether a mainstreaming strategy would compromise the economic and social standards that were at the heart of Fair Trade.
Learning Objective
To highlight the challenge in deciding when a product should be mainstreamed and when it should remain in a niche category, particularly when that niche category is dedicated to socially responsible business practices.
Could be taught in the following course(s)
sustainability, corporate social responsibility