Padre Frans van der Hoff

Padre Farns

Franciso van der Hoff Boersma ended his earthly journey this 13th February and what a journey it was. He was proud to call himself a “soixante huiteur”, a student radical in Holland. He was a farm boy who earned 3 doctorates in theology, economics and development. He learned English in a matter of months to teach at the University of Ottawa but when Allende was elected in Chile he decided his true vocation was as a “worker priest”. He went to work in the mines of Chile until 9/11/73 when the U.S. orchestrated a coup. Frans was warned that he was on the hit list of Pinochet and fled to Mexico City. Still feeling “hunted”, he asked Bishop Arturo of Oaxaca if there was work he could do in rural Oaxaca and the Bishop suggested he could assist the desperately poor peasant coffee farmers - the beginning of the amazing development of Fair Trade. He died yesterday in Oaxaca deeply loved and admired by so many locally and globally. He was precious - his wisdom, his humour and his kindness - and I am so thankful to have had him as a friend in my life.

Bob Thomson Degrowth/Décroissance Canada Frans was one of my first and influential contacts in the fair trade world and UCIRI one of the best examples of cooperative partners with Bridgehead back when Bridgehead was still a fair trade Canadian partner. We all pass along eventually and Frans not only left his mark but he lives on in the myriad of examples of international cooperation that hopefully some day will guide us out of the shambles the world finds itself in today. Bob Thomson, founder of Fairtrade Canada 1994-2000.

Sergi Corbalán Advisor (Greens-EFA group in the European Parliament) He was an extraordinary man. What a great legacy he left.

Marjoleine Motz Sustainability professional with a passion for meaningful social and economic impact, (ESG), and how to organize this transition in your organization/business This is sad news and I share the comments made. Working with Frans when I worked for Fairtrade Int he became also a big inspiration for me. He shared his insights so freely and respectfully which helped me a lot to understand the coffee farmers reality, discuss how to further develop the fairtrade model etc. We also laughed a lot during his visits to the Netherlands, walking around the Biofach and surely when I visited his beloved Mexico. Over the years we stayed in touch, no matter where I worked. I'll surely miss the talks, but will keep his learnings in mind and try to put them to work whereven I am.

Ian BretmanNon-Executive Director | Board Chair | Governance & Board Development | Stakeholder Relations & Partnerships | Social Justice | Sustainability | Diversity & Inclusion Very sad news. A man of the utmost integrity with a burning passion for social justice that provided inspiration to the whole Fair Trade movement. A life well lived indeed.

Susanne Boetekees Director Policy, Advocacy & Sustainable Sourcing at Fairtrade Netherlands Saddened to hear this news. I had the pleasure of meeting Frans when he was in the Netherlands in 2022. This was a man with a Mission and he surely did leave and continues to have an imprint on the lives and livelihoods of so many people across the world. 🤍

Carlos Murillo. My respect and appreciation to Frans and his huge caring heart. No doubt small coffee farmers around the world owe a debt of gratitude to Frans. Rest in peace.

Nico Roozen. Losing a good friend is losing a piece of yourself. We met for the first time in May 1985. During my previous visit to Mexico, I had missed him. But the stories about this striking Dutch priest went around. He was at Carrefour in France to sell Uciri organic coffee. Months later, we spoke in the Netherlands. He believed in shortening the chain and in better prices for the farmer. An intensive collaboration was an obvious choice. The idea of a fair trade label was born because, as a third world retailer, I knew that only the shelf in the supermarket would bring relevance. The rest is history. A friendship was born and proved resistant to discussions about new choices that presented themselves later. Without Frans, Solidaridad would not have become what it is today. A learning experience of change.

Pauline Tiffen Editor in Chief, The Journal of Fair Trade
I met Frans in the early, early days of Max Havelaar and at many campesino meetings in Mexico. Twin Trading at that time was supporting many Uniones de Ejidos in Mexico to bypass the coyotes and access international markets in their own right.  This was always and ever a political as well as an economic proposition! Particularly as export permits were required and at the discretion of the PRI (the state) up to the abolition of the International Coffee Agreement in 1989. 
Fast forward decades: After launching The Journal of Fair Trade as an Diamond Open Access place for all voices trying to advance practice and ideas and as an attempt to reboot the fair trade movement: Franz was so, so encouraging. He wrote in July 2021:
"Hola Pauline, nice to see that you are still very active in the Movement. I am interested to see your latest publication. We have to rethink the Fair Trade Movement."

Anita Sheth •Compliance Director, SBTi (CDP)Compliance Director, SBTi (CDP)

I am deeply saddened to hear about the passing of Francisco van der Hoff Boersma, one of the key originators of Fairtrade, whom I had the good fortune to meet and spend time with in Mexico. He taught me the importance and value of having the opinions of impacted people influence the highest levels of #trade #policy decisions, especially when it comes to the #food we consume.

Thank you for the learnings, which inspired me everyday to do the work I did at Fairtrade. You did make the world a fairer place. Namaste.

Ruud Lambregts  Independent International Affairs advisor. Former programme manager, Oxfam Novid, Latin America.

Thank you Nico, I have taken your joint book out of the closet again. How important French has been for Fairtrade! Good to read that your friendship has helped to overcome the later points of contention in the end....

Monique van de Vijven Innovation Manager Health at Solaridad Network, Utrecht University, Netherland. 

Many were allowed to stand on his strong shoulders, including me. Big thanks and admiration Frans, for your enormous efforts for a better world, and the hope and inspiration you have given to many through your faith. A veritable and indispensable global movement for better has emerged from it. 

Van der Molen Environmental Internet Services. Nacional Sustainability Congres (NCS) 

Frans is also included in the timeline "History of CSR in the Netherlands" We at Suitable wish a lot of strength to both the relatives and colleagues of Frans. We are particularly committed to the principles on which Fairtrade operates. He leaves behinda very nice legacy and a fairer world


Fair Trade Netherlands (Maxhavelaar)


FairTrade Netherlands ( Maxhavelaar)

Yesterday we received the sad news that Frans van der Hoff passed away on February 13th. Together with Nico Roozen, Frans was one of the founders of the Max Havelaar quality mark for fair trade coffee, which we now know as Fairtrade.

Frans was a special person in many ways. He worked from a strong passion and personal mission to fight poverty. He left behind an important legacy: Fairtrade. French will continue to be an important inspiration for many to make the Fairtrade mission a success.

Our thoughts and support go out to Frans' family and friends and to the farming community of Uciri. 

Maikel Arts, Asawa Coffee, Netherlands

What sad news.

Frans was an inspiration, and above all a wonderful person!

I think back to the times I was able to meet him at the coffee roastery in Gemert, to the conversations that were always full of love, wisdom and positivity.

Thank you Frans, rest in peace.


CLAC Comercio Justo

Como nacio commercio Justo, entrevosita con Padre Frans van der Hoff

CLAC Comercio Justo 

CLAC recuerda el legado del padre Frans Van der Hoff, pionero del Comercio Justo - leer más: 

Fair International


It is with deep sadness that we communicate the passing of Father Frans van der Hoff. His lifelong commitment to creating a world where fairness is at the core is to be cherished and honoured. 

In 1988, in collaboration with Nico Roozen and the developmental agency Solidaridad, he established Max Havelaar, the precursor of Fairtrade.

With determination and commitment to social justice he planted the seeds for the movement we see today. We will continue to carry his legacy and build a world that respects people and planet -today and always.

My respect and admiration for Frans. It was an honor to have shared and learned from him in my first steps for Fair Trade. Smallholder coffee farmers around the world are grateful!!

Carlos Murillo. My respect and admiration for Frans. It was an honor to have shared and learned from him in my first steps for Fair Trade. Smallholder coffee farmers around the world are grateful!!

Jos Harmsen, International Fairtrade expert. What a sad news that Frans passed away. For me he was (and still is) a source of inspiration, during the many years I worked with Fairtrade ánd in my daily life. He unconditionally stood up for the weakest in the product chain, for small coffee farmers. He did not consider poverty to be something inferior and promoted an economy of 'decent poverty'. That vision, his way of thinking and acting, always starting from the situation of small farmers, has impressed me a lot. I have kept following him during all his years among the coffee farmers of the first Fairtrade cooperative UCIRI in Mexico. I will miss our exchanges by e-mail and the conversations when he was in the Netherlands. But his inspiration survives. 

Bart Pauwels, Agronomist. Expert in Organic certificated Tropical Agricultural Production. I had the opportunity to meet Frans in a couple of events in Europe focussing on Fairtrade and organic certified agricultural. His work in Mexico and the joint initiative with Nico/Solidaridad resulting in the creation and establishment of the first MH foundation was the main source of inspiration when in 1990 I started working with a group of small coffee farmers in the Tropical Andes of Venezuela and that resulted in the formation of a cooperative with first FT/Organic exports in 1994. This then led to 20 years of FT work and travel all over LA and part of Afrika . So the story as described in the book by Frans and Nico ( la Aventura del Comercio Justo) has been partly been my own... Long will he remembered!

Marly Theunnise- I had the big honor and pleasure of meeting Frans during my several days visit to UCIRI some 20 years ago. Unforgettable!

Jos van Hal, Independent Consultant SDGs and Member of Competences for SD(Gs) at Consortium SDG Competent. Respects