Publication Date



Open access

Embargo Period


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Latin American Studies (Arts and Sciences)

Date of Defense


First Committee Member

J. Miguel Kanai

Second Committee Member

Eduardo Elena

Third Committee Member

Marten Brienen


This thesis explores the recent growth of Fair Trade yerba mate networks in Misiones, Argentina. It is a qualitative descriptive study, researching an area presently untouched by academic scholarship. The investigation first offers a historical background of production practices and labor relations within the yerba mate sector. It also examines various theoretical considerations that both problematize and support Fair Trade commodities. A commodity chain approach is used to understand the different value-adding processes that yerba mate is exposed to as it moves along nodes of harvesting, drying, milling, distribution, and consumption. Results are based on a month-long study of three different cases in Misiones, conducted during August 2014. Findings show that these Fair Trade yerba mate networks are heterogeneous and informed by pre-existing social and economic structures; in spite of this, organizations adopt similar strategies to increase impact and ensure commercial success. The future of these organizations lies in their continued ability to circumvent the oligopolistic yerba mate sector in Misiones, their increased use of value-adding mechanisms, and further capacity to appeal to consumers in international markets.


yerba mate; fair trade; Misiones, Argentina; commodity chains