So what is Fairtrade?
Fairtrade is about better prices, decent working conditions, local sustainability, and fair terms of trade for farmers and workers in the developing world. Fairtrade addresses the injustices of conventional trade, which traditionally discriminate against the poorest, weakest producers. It enables them to improve their lot and have more control over their lives.
International trade may seem a remote issue, but when commodity prices fall dramatically it has a catastrophic impact on the lives of millions of small scale producers, forcing many into crippling debt and countless others to lose their land and their homes.
Too many farmers in the developing world have to contend with fluctuating prices that may not even cover what it costs to produce their crop, however, for workers and farmers in the developing world, Fairtrade means better terms of trade, guaranteed prices for their crops and decent production conditions.
Fairtrade creates win: win scenarios. A win for the consumer as the products are of the highest quality, non-GM and mostly certified organic and a win for the producer as they received a fair price for their excellent crop.
Switch to Fairtrade
By simply switching from your current brand of product (be it coffee, tea, chocolate or any of the items on the certified list), to one that carries the FAIRTRADE Mark, you can use your purchasing power as economic muscle, secure in the knowledge that the product isn't being brought to you at such a tremendous cost to the people who grow it.
If you take coffee as an example, under Fairtrade, growers get a much higher price for their coffee than they do under standard supply contracts. Yet, the extra cost to the consumer is well under a penny a cup. If we chose the Fairtrade option we can make a real difference for the growers. With 30 billion cups of coffee drunk every year in the UK alone, that's quite a difference.
Globally, an estimated 5 million people - farmers, workers and their families - are already benefiting from the Fairtrade system. Fairtrade is currently working in 58 developing countries, with 464 producer organizations and 515 registered traders who commit to agreed trading standards.
Fairtrade trading standards stipulate that traders must:
- pay a price to producers that covers the costs of sustainable production and living;
- pay a 'premium' that producers can invest in development;
- make partial advance payments when requested by producers;
- sign contracts that allow for long-term planning and sustainable production practices.
The Fairtrade Foundation, with its partners, maintains these standards by regularly inspecting third world suppliers, and checking contracts and trade terms. Check out the Fairtrade Foundation website for more information.
- Dried Fruit
- Fresh Fruit & Fresh Vegetables
- Nuts/Oil Seeds and Purees
- Cut Flowers
- Ornamental Plants
- Sports Balls
In addition, the FAIRTRADE Mark or label may be put on a composite product if more than 50% of its ingredients, by dry weight, are sourced from Fairtrade certified producer organizations.
In the case of liquid composite products, a FAIRTRADE Mark may be put on the product if more than 50% of its volume is sourced from Fairtrade certified producer organizations.
If the total Fairtrade content is less than 50%, a composite product only qualifies if it has a significant ingredient and if this ingredient represents more than 20% of the product's dry weight.
A 'significant ingredient' is defined as one that meets at least one of the following requirements:
- eligible under appropriate trading standards to be part of a product's name e.g. 'orange juice drink' of which the main ingredient is water, but the significant ingredient is orange juice
- an ingredient normally associated with the product e.g. 'cocoa' in drinking chocolate
- an ingredient crucial to the formulation of the product, without which the product would not be viable e.g. 'hibiscus' in 'hibiscus tea'
On some products the label will show that Fairtrade certified ingredients make up less than 20% of the product. However, Fairtrade requirements are based on the dry weight formulation of the product & one significant Fairtrade certified ingredient must be at least 20% of the total in order to be labelled as a Fairtrade certified product. All products bearing the FAIRTRADE Mark conform to this requirement.
In addition, there is a wide range of organic products carrying the FAIRTRADE Mark - coffee, tea, honey, cocoa and chocolate products - and the range is increasing steadily.
Also, at present there are no GMO crops in the categories covered by the FAIRTRADE Mark so all Fairtrade products are GMO-free.