As is common with many charitable or social purpose organizations, the heart of the fair trade movement appears to carry an implicit assumption that its objectives and processes give it a legitimate right to operate as a distinct model of social justice and development. The roots of the movement in trade justice campaigning, advocacy and faith groups have lent weight to this assumption, since they carry a normative moral and political authority consistent with the stated aims and achievements of fair trade.1 Most scholarly literature analysing fair trade shares this view and bases its theory and research on an untested assumption that fair trade offers a legitimate model for producer empowerment and economic development.2 Despite some criticisms of specific aspects of the model – notably its economics (LeClair 2003; Maseland and de Vaal 2002; Booth and Whetstone 2007), impact (Berlan 2004) and marketing (Hudson and Hudson 2003; Wright 2004; Goodman 2004; Dolan 2007) – fair trade continues to enjoy widespread popular support and is a growing consumer-driven market trend in the North (Nicholls 2007).