As a student of global health, I am investigating the impact of Fairtrade on poverty and health. I would love to hear people's thoughts about whether they think fairtrade is still doing a good job.
Critics claim that Fairtrade's original purpose (an alternative trade network attempting to bring poor, small-scale producers and consumers into a closer, more ethical relationship) has been usurped by a proliferation of labelling schemes that simply add greater distance between producers and consumers. They also claim that the Fairtrade 'fair price' is no longer fair as it does not cover the costs of sustainable production e.g. cost of production + living costs.
Fairtrade supporters counter that labelling schemes have opened up massive new markets for poor producers' products and that the minimum 'fair price' and added social premium are still doing their original job, by protecting farmers and their families from fluctuating global commodity prices.
I am reading both the academic literature and the case study reports provided by Fairtrade organisations, but would love to hear other activists' point of view on this debate, and about their involvement in fair or alternative trading networks, especially how they evaluate the impact on poverty and health of the small scale producers they know about.