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Impact of Fair Trade Coffee Examined in New Book by Trent University Professor


Book Launch on March 15 to Celebrate Pioneering Work by Assistant Professor Gavin Fridell

Tuesday, March 13, 2007, Peterborough

Assistant professor Gavin Fridell from the Politics department of Trent University will launch his new book entitled Fair Trade Coffee: The Prospects and Pitfalls of Market-Driven Social Justice on March 15 at 3 p.m. at York University.

This study looks at the broader political-economic and historically-rooted structures that hinder the spread of fair trade coffee to all coffee growers.

“Fair trade coffee is contradictory,” explains Prof. Fridell. “Although some coffee growers are experiencing the benefits of fair pricing, the lion’s share of coffee growers remain obstructed from ever benefiting in the same way due to entrenched power structures in the coffee industry.”

“Meanwhile, large coffee companies, like Starbucks, receive 100% of the publicity for a commitment to buy only 2% of their coffee from fair trade suppliers,” said Prof. Fridell.

Over the past two decades, sales of fair trade coffee have grown significantly and the fair trade network has emerged as an important international development project. Activists and commentators have been quick to celebrate this sales growth, which has allowed socially just trade, labour, and environmental standards to be extended to hundreds of thousands of small farmers and poor rural workers throughout the Global South. While recent assessments of the fair trade network have focused on its impact on local poverty alleviation, however, the broader political-economic and historically-rooted structures that frame it have been left largely unexamined.

Addressing this omission, Prof. Fridell argues that while local level analysis is important, examining the impacts of broader structures on fair trade coffee networks, and vice versa, are of equal if not greater significance in determining its long-term developmental potential. Using fair trade groups in Mexico and Canada as case studies, Prof. Fridell examines fair trade coffee at both the global and local level, assessing it as a development project and locating it within political and development theory. In addition, Prof. Fridell provides in-depth historical analysis of fair trade coffee in the context of global trade, and compares it to a variety of post-war development projects within the coffee industry.

The book launch will take place at 280 York Lanes, York University, located at 4700 Keele Street in Toronto, Ontario.


For further information, please contact:
Professor Gavin Fridell, (705) 748-1011, ext. 5485