Equal Exchange’s mission is to build long-term trade partnerships that are economically just and environmentally sound, to foster mutually beneficial relationships between farmers and consumers and to demonstrate, through our success, the contribution of worker co-operatives and Fair Trade to a more equitable, democratic and sustainable world.


Equal Exchange started with an idea: what if food could be traded in a way that is honest and fair, a way that empowers both farmers and consumers? Our founders - Rink Dickinson, Jonathan Rosenthal and Michael Rozyne - asked this question as they envisioned a trade model that values each part of the supply chain . They decided to take a big risk and started importing fairly traded coffee from Nicaragua in 1986, despite a US embargo against the Sandinista government. A new business was born from this bold act of solidarity with Latin American farmers and Equal Exchange grew from there.


Equal Exchange has been a proud supporter of authentic fair trade since day one, and that means knowing and working directly with the farmers who produce their food. They partner with farmer cooperatives who are democratically organized, sharing resources and decision-making among their members. Collectively, they gain crucial market access and decide how to invest fair trade and organic premiums in their communities. They now source from over 40 small farmer organizations around the world. Their longstanding relationships allow them to secure the best crops, while continuing to develop innovative programs in collaboration with the co-ops, from crop diversification to quality trainings to women's leadership development.


Equal Exchange expect no less from themselves than we ask of our farmer partners. For that reason they have chosen to organize ourselves as a worker co-op, an alternative business model based on democratic principles. Each worker-owner gets one vote, has access to shared financial information, and invests an equal share in the business. In contrast to the national trend of growing income inequality, they have a 5:1 top-to-bottom pay ratio, plus excess profit distribution shared equally among worker-owners at the end of each year. They also have a “Never Sell Out” clause in our by-laws ensuring that in the event of a sale, all net proceeds would be donated to another alternative trade company.

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