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Insights from a Community Discussion of TransFair’s Name Change to Fair Trade USA

On February 9, FTRN produced Webinar 105, about TransFair USA’s name change to Fair Trade USA. The webinar featured Fair Trade USA’s CEO, Paul Rice; Equal Exchange’s Answer Man, Rodney North; United Church of Christ Justice and Witness Ministries Minister for Economic Justice, Edie Rassell. You can download the 50-min Webinar 105 recording, or register for upcoming webinars, at FTRN Webinars.

Below are some key points according to the attributed person, from the webinar:


“TransFair USA” does not clearly communicate our identify.

“Fair Trade USA” speaks directly to our values and mission.

Name change does not preclude others from using “fair trade”.

Consistent with new global naming convention of FLO members.


Process was poor as TF didn’t consult others in movement who are affected.

TFUSA isn’t ideal name, but new name isn’t justified.

In new name, “USA” is root of the problem:  too sweeping, overreach that obscures TF’s core function of certification.

Change is a problem now for others in movement, and will be bigger problem down the road.

Problem of perception as public assumes this organization is all of Fair Trade in the USA.

In larger organics movement, all key organizations have helpful modifiers in their name (Trade Association, Coalition, Consumers Association, etc.). No organization is called Organics USA.

If a mistake is repeated by following other FLO affiliates in using names like “Fair Trade Netherlands”, then the mistake only gets larger.


Name of an organization shouldn’t suggest that the organization represents, or speaks for, the entire movement.

Fair Trade is not a brand to be controlled by a single certifier, but a movement and set of practices.

FTUSA name is too broad, takes up too much ground.

New name doesn’t indicate what TF does, and doesn’t reflect diversity in the movement.


TransFair licensees and fundraising contacts felt old name confused TransFair’s efforts.

Producers and consumers have said new name makes sense too.

Name change improves clarity and simplicity to help distinguish from low bar certifiers and self-certifiers, and other threats to the movement.

FTUSA doesn’t intend to overreach into the space of the movement.

Audience member, Aria:

Could new name become “Fairtrade USA”, without a space in the word “Fairtrade”?


FTUSA has debated and researched that option. It is a possibility, but fusion of those two words in U.S. market could be confusing. FTUSA has a little data to support that concern. FTUSA tried to avoid repackaging for brand holders using the label.  “Fair Trade USA” parallels “Fair Trade Certified” in separating the words.


“Fairtrade USA” is still problematic, and should be changed to something else less overreaching.


TransFair appears to take on a new name that would exclude other certifiers, which seems destructive to the movement.

Audience question:

The name change seemed to surprise many organizations in the movement, so who was consulted about the name change?


I don’t want to mention names, but we did consult with industry, NGOs and farmers.

More at Webinar 105 recording.


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