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hand grabbing a gold coffee bean

How Fair Trade USA Tries to Make People Think Before They Buy

Hal Conick

hand grabbing a gold coffee bean

Anna Banks brings years of corporate experience to her role as CMO at the nonprofit Fair Trade USA. In her latest role, she’s searching for a way to make average consumers care about farmers who work thousands of miles away.

In stores across the U.S., shoppers buy certain items without much thought —chocolate bars and cups of coffee are picked up, purchased and consumed within moments. But the story of these items began months before and miles away in conditions unfathomable to most Americans.

That unfathomable world—one rocked by disease, poverty and unfair labor practices—is Anna Banks’ main marketing tool as CMO of Fair Trade USA. Banks, who has worked as a corporate marketer for 20 years, moved into the nonprofit world in May 2018 and must now figure out how the stories of faraway farmers can rouse U.S. consumers to pay more in the name of ending global poverty.

Banks has acres of imagery to work with. Fair Trade USA works with nearly 1 million farmers across the world to reach better terms with their trading partners, including workers’ rights and a set higher-than-market price for products like coffee and cocoa. The money then goes back to the communities where the goods were produced, giving workers options for how to spend the money. Fair Trade USA reports that it has created $551 million of value to producers since 1998.

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Hal Conick

Hal Conick is a staff writer for the AMA’s magazines and e-newsletters. He can be reached at hconick@ama.org or on Twitter at @HalConick.