Fair Trade USA®, the leading certifier of fair trade products in North America including coffee, produce, consumer packaged goods, apparel, and home goods, welcomes Ricardo Crisantes as Chair of the Board of Directors. His appointment reflects the organization’s commitment to elevating the voice and serving the needs of farmers and workers, especially as they grapple with ongoing hardships and rapidly changing market demands during COVID-19.
Crisantes has served on the Fair Trade USA board for over three years. Notably, this is the first time in the organization’s 22-year history that it has elected a grower as Chair.
He is a respected leader in the US produce industry, bringing more than 20 years of experience in sustainable, organic agriculture. Currently, Crisantes is the Chief Commercial Officer and third-generation co-owner of Wholesum, a family-owned grower and pioneer of organic produce in Mexico. In this role, he spearheaded equitable labor initiatives, including the implementation of fair trade certification across all of Wholesum’s farms in both Mexico and the US.
“I feel deep responsibility to the millions of farmers and workers around the world who are struggling to earn a decent living for themselves and their families,” Crisantes said. “Fair trade is one of the most credible and effective certification models on the market that helps farmers improve their lives and develop their communities more sustainably. I’ve seen its powerful impact first-hand on our family’s farms and I’m honored to step into this role to support the movement further.”
Crisantes believes technology is the key to the future of the movement. “Technology can help make global supply chains more transparent and responsible. It gives us the opportunity to raise consumer awareness of the impact every purchase can make in the lives of the farmers and workers who grow our food. Building better technology across global and local fair trade supply chains will allow us to more effectively scale up the impact of fair trade on families, communities and the environment,” he said.
As Chair, Crisantes will help lead Fair Trade USA and represent the voice of certified producers as the organization introduces a new platform and enhanced data services that will deliver more supply chain transparency and traceability to companies and consumers.
“We’re investing in a new future with the technological modernization of our established and trusted impact model,” said Paul Rice, Founder & CEO of Fair Trade USA. “With the launch of our new digital platform earlier this year, we are building the foundation on which over 1 million certified farmers and workers in 47 countries around the world will gain direct access to the US market and our network of 1,250+ affiliated companies. This technological bridge to the US fair trade market is more timely and necessary than ever because of the Covid-19 pandemic. It will also enable fair trade producers to more effectively market their products, identify and connect with prospective buyers, report on their sustainable community development initiatives, and share their personal stories of the transformative impact of fair trade in their lives.”
Since 1998, farmers, workers, and their families have earned more than $740 million in additional economic benefit through their sales of Fair Trade Certified products to the US market, enabling extraordinary improvements in water, health, education, housing, gender equity, and environmental protection. This impact is enabled by the everyday purchasing decisions of millions of US shoppers, 63% of whom now recognize the Fair Trade Certified seal.
James D. White, the Chair of the Board since March 2018, will continue to serve as a member of Fair Trade USA’s Board of Directors. White, a season business executive, is a passionate champion for diversity and inclusion. James has been recognized with numerous awards including the American Heart Association Corporate Citizen Award in 2014 and Junior Achievement’s Northern California Lifetime Achievement Award in 2013. In 2010, the San Francisco Business Times named him the Bay Area’s Most Admired CEO. Fair Trade USA is deeply grateful for James’ visionary leadership and looks forward to his continued contributions.