Agriculture and Human Values

, Volume 31, Issue 4, pp 577–591 | Cite as

Co-operative or coyote? Producers’ choice between intermediary purchasers and Fairtrade and organic co-operatives in Chiapas

  • Anna Birgitte Milford


Coffee producers in many parts of the world have the option of either becoming a member of and selling their coffee to a Fairtrade and organic co-operative, or selling it to a “coyote”, the Central American nickname for intermediary purchaser. This study investigates why different producers make different choices, looking at both material and immaterial costs and benefits of the two choices. A qualitative study from Chiapas (Mexico) finds that a main reason for not choosing the co-operatives is the production requirements that follow organic certification. A survey on production costs confirms that members of an organic co-operative have more work hours than non-members in the same area. A probit analysis indicates that both coffee plot size and number of working household members influence the producers’ decision on sales channel. However, the study also finds that aspects not related to the organic production requirements can affect the choice, such as the level of trust in co-operative leadership, and the co-operatives’ payment systems.


Fairtrade Organic production Farmer cooperatives Coffee Mexico 



Certificadora Mexicana de Productos y Procesos Ecológicos


Fairtrade International


Inter-American Institute for global change research


Partido de la Revolución Democrática


Unión Regional de Ejidatarios Agropecuarios, Forestales y de Agroindustria de los pueblos Zoque y Tzotzil del Estado de Chiapas



I wish to thank Stewart Diemont, Angel Alvarez Martínez, Pedro Ramirez Lopez, and Certimex for help with data collection. I would also like to thank Kjetil Bjorvatn, Erik Sørensen, Gudbrand Lien, and Sophie Spencer for helpful comments. The survey reported in this study was financed by the Inter-American Institute for Global Change Research (IAI). I would also like to thank El Colegio de la Frontera Sur for hosting me during 10 months.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Norwegian Agricultural Economics Research InstituteBergenNorway

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