Assessment of the Impact of Fairtrade in South Africa

An extensive impact assessment of Fairtrade in South Africa.





Fairtrade Foundation (UK) in conjunction with the Southern African Fairtrade Network

Consultancy team

Andrew Charman, assisted by Leif Petersen, Rory Liedeman, Julie Herring, Jenny Kruger, Sindile Mvambi, James Mabela, Koena Modiba, Pinkie Sobahle and Monde Ntshudu.


Sustainable Livelihood Consultants was appointed to undertake an extensive impact assessment of Fairtrade in South Africa.

The assessment was to investigate:

  • The aims and objectives of individual farmer / producers in terms of sustainable development and empowerment and to assess the role that
    Fairtrade has played in helping them to progress towards these goals.
  • The impact, both positive and negative, that being part of Fairtrade has had on local communities and farm workers.
  • How best the Fairtrade labelling system can work in the relevant product sectors and along the supply chain to improve the impact of
    Fairtrade certification.

The consultant was required to make recommendations to the client and the Fairtrade Labelling Organisation (FLO) on how it can more effectively support producers and workers to achieve their goals. The research was intended to enable these stakeholders to understand how the Fairtrade tools can maximise the positive outcomes for small-scale producers and workers in hired labour situations.


The impact assessment was undertaken through a case study approach. Five sites were selected, namely: Zebediela citrus in Limpopo Province (oranges and lemons), Sun Orange Farms in the Eastern Cape Province (oranges and lemons), Vuki Farming (apples and pears) and Stellar Group (table grapes and wine), in the Western Cape and Eksteenskuil Agricultural Cooperative (raisins and sultanas) in the Northern Cape.

The methodology included field work, which involved both quantitative and qualitative methods, and a desk top analysis of reports and data.

The informants included hired labour workers, small farmers, farm management, consultants / advisors, traders, civil society stakeholders and professionals working for Fairtrade. Sustainable Livelihood Consultants mobilised a team of high calibre researchers to conduct the field research, thus enabling the consultant to communicate with workers in their home language and identify with their ethno-cultural backgrounds.


SLC produced five detailed case study reports and a synthesis report. A briefing paper which summaries some of the main findings from the synthesis report can be downloaded from the Fairtrade Foundation web-site.

Click to download this project in PDF.