Nick Cat Oakley
Fairtrade is about better prices, decent working conditions, local sustainability and fair terms of trade for farmers and workers in the developing world.
The FAIRTRADE Mark is the original fair trade consumer label
The number of ethical labels is growing, but Fairtrade remains unique. While other schemes aim to ‘protect the environment’ or ‘enable companies to trace their coffee’, Fairtrade’s focus is to empower farmers and workers to improve the quality of their lives and take more control over their futures.
Look for the FAIRTRADE Mark on products. It’s your guarantee that disadvantaged farmers and workers in the developing world get a better deal.
Plantations and companies that used hired labour can also sell certain products – such as bananas and tea – through Fairtrade if workers are organised and benefit from Fairtrade. The Fairtrade Standards protect workers’ basic rights according to International Labour Organization conventions. These include health and safety standards, freedom of association, collective bargaining, no discrimination and no bonded or illegal child labour. The Joint Body, which includes a majority of worker representatives, decides how to invest the Fairtrade Premium works to create good working relationships between management and workers and helps workers gain skills in leadership, communication and project management.
Farmers and workers jointly own and manage Fairtrade International and are represented on the Board of Directors. Through the Board and its committees, they are involved in decisions on overall strategy and setting prices, premiums and standards.
Unique in the market
Fairtrade has a strong global grassroots consumer base. There are now over 1,000 Fairtrade Towns around the world – including Rome, San Francisco and London – that use Fairtrade in municipal purchasing, schools and retail outlets and promote Fairtrade through their local press. Strong networks of family, friends and colleagues also actively promote Fairtrade – one third of people first learn about Fairtrade through these networks. A 2008 GlobeScan study of 14,500 consumers in 15 countries showed half of consumers are now familiar with the FAIRTRADE Mark and 91 per cent of these trust the consumer label. A further 64 per cent believe Fairtrade has strict standards, a quality that closely correlates to consumer trust. In the UK, over three quarters of people are familiar with the FAIRTRADE Mark.
FLO-CERT, the independent certification body for Fairtrade, is the only ISO 65 accredited ethical certification scheme. Three out of four consumers believe independent certification is the best way to verify a product’s ethical claims.
Text courtesy of Fairtrade Foundation. For more information, visit www.fairtrade.org.uk