The producer networks become members of FLO

Through a change of FLO’s constitution by FLO’s Meeting of Members last November, the Labelling Initiatives (LIs) currently composing FLO’s membership unanimously voted to adopt a new Constitution for the Association which provides for networks of Fairtrade Certified Producers to become members of FLO.

The Producer Networks can now apply to become full members of FLO International e.V. "This expansion of membership will convert FLO into a truly multi-stakeholder organization" says Barbara Fiorito, Chair of FLO Board.

Producer Networks are organisations which Fairtrade Certified Producer Organisations may join if they so wish and which are recognised by FLO as representative of farmers, workers and others belonging to Fairtrade Certified Producer Organisations.  At the moment, there are three producer networks in the three continents where Fairtrade Certified Producers Organisations are present: CLAC, Coordinadora Latinoamericana y del Caribe de Comercio Justo, AFN, African Fairtrade Network, and NAP, Network of Asian Producers.

" The face behind the fairtrade movement is the southern producer and the inclusion of Producer Networks in the FLO constitution is a welcome step towards further strengthening Fairtrade" says Binod Mohan, NAP Chairman.

Barbara Fiorito is of the same opinion as Mr. Mohan and is very positive about the enlargement of FLO's membership to producer organizations: "In practice the new constitution means that all Fairtrade Certified Producer Organisations will have the right to participate in the Association’s decision-making processes through a recognised network".


FLO’s Managing Director to pass the baton
Luuk Zonneveld, FLO Managing Director, working at his desk at FLO Central Offices in Bonn, Germany

After nearly six years of directing FLO International, FLO’s Managing Director, Mr. Luuk Zonneveld, has agreed with the FLO Board that the direction of the organization will pass to a new Chief Executive Officer in 2007. In the past six years, Mr. Zonneveld played a decisive role in the transformation of FLO from a small organization into a multinational association with global outreach. Under his direction, FLO tripled the number of Fairtrade Certified Producer Organizations. Also during his time, Fairtrade sales experienced an average growth of 35% per year. FLO’s Communications Officer, Verónica Pérez, interviewed Mr. Zonneveld to find out about his time as Managing Director and his future plans. Click here to read the interview.


50 reasons to buy Fairtrade

Fair Trade consumers and supporters can be inspired by a new book: “50 reasons to Buy Fair Trade” by Miles Litvinoff and John Madeley, recently published in the United Kingdom.

This book provides 50 reasons why buying fair trade delivers a host of benefits to people and the planet. It’s an inspiring account of how every consumer can play a part in improving lives and making global trade work better for poor people.

FLO had the opportunity to interview one of the authors, Miles Litvinoff. He told us about his experience with Fair Trade, how he got the idea to write a book on the subject and about his encounter with Fair Trade producers. Click here to read the interview.


FLO announces increase in Fairtrade Premium and Organic Differential for Coffee

At its meeting on 8 March 2007, the Fairtrade Labelling Organizations (FLO) International Board of Directors ratified the Standards Committee’s recent decision to increase the Fairtrade Premium, and the Organic Differential for coffee. The decision is the end result of a multistakeholder consultation, including representation and input from producers, buyers, marketers, and FLO Labelling Initiatives. Please click here to read more.

Fairtrade Environmental Standards: focus on development

Many producers have been raising concerns about the current Fairtrade Environmental Standards, whether as part of the Generic Small Farmers' Organizations Standard or the Generic Hired Labour Standard. The current standard requires producers to be fully compliant by April 1st, 2007 and producers feel this not to be feasible in some critical areas of the standard.

The Africa Fairtrade Network (AFN) during a workshop in late November elaborated a detailed analysis and provided this to FLO. In parallel, FLO PBU and FLO-Cert also analysed the standard and provided their results which were quite similar to those of  the AFN. Analysis papers were sent to the Standards Committee (SC) in early December 2006. Based on this input the SC acknowledged the urgent need for a review of the standard and the implementation of a revised standard prior to April 1st, 2007.

FLO Standards Unit (SU), with further input from FLO-Cert, put forward a detailed proposal for a revised standard to the SC for its meeting on February 20th/21st, 2007. The Standards Committee decided unanimously to approve this proposal and asked SU to make the necessary changes to the applicable standards. The amended Standards will be published on FLO website in the coming week. Please click here to read more

Fairtrade: empowering flower workers in Ecuador

Hoja Verde is a Fairtrade Flower Producer Farm in Cayambe, Ecuador. It was Fairtrade Certified five years ago, in 2002. Currently, Hoja Verde employs 153 workers. Since 2002, Hoja Verde's workers have been carrying out a number of social projects with the Fairtrade Premium Money. Verónica Pérez, FLO's Communications Officer, and French photographer, Didier Gentilhomme, visited the farm last October to document the projects that have been developed.
Click here to read about the benefits of Fairtrade at Hoja Verde.


Dazhangshan Organic Tea Farmers’ Association, Jiangxi, China: a sucessful Fairtrade business

Bettina von Reden, former Communications Officer at TransFair Germany, recently travelled through the rural province of Jiangxi, in Southern China. With a per capita GDP of only 500 Euros a year, Jiangxi is among the poorer provinces of China. More than 70% of the population lives in rural areas and agriculture provides 25% of GDP.  During her visit, Bettina had the opportunity to meet with the members of the Dazhangshan Organic Tea Farmers’ Association, a Fairtrade Certified Producer Organization since 2001. There she witnessed the benefits that Fairtrade has brought for the almost 4,400 members of the Association and their families. Please click here to read the full report of Bettina von Reden. 


15% more Fairtrade Producer Organizations in 2006

Yet, again, the number of Fairtrade Certified Producer Organizations has grown over the last year. End of 2006 there were 586 certified producer organizations in 58 producing countries. This represents a growth of 15% compared to the end of 2005, when there was a total of 508 organizations, in 51 countries.

Kesko Food and Finnish Association for Fairtrade deepen cooperation

Kesko Food Ltd and the Finnish Association for Fairtrade Labelling signed a cooperation agreement.Kesko Food currently offers the widest range of Fairtrade products in Finland. The cooperation agreement signed on Monday, 26 February 2007 is aimed to further diversify the offer and make Kesko Food and K-food  stores the market leader in the sales of Fairtrade products in  Finland.  Click here to read more.


First Fairtrade town in Canada

The town of Wolfville, located in Annapolis in the Valley region of Nova Scotia, will become the first Fairtrade Town in Canada. Last December the Town’s council adopted a resolution to support Fairtrade and committed to use Fairtrade Certified Products (coffee, tea, sugar and other products) for the city's needs, one of the six goals which have to be met for a city to be declared a “Fairtrade Town (City, etc)” by TransFair Canada. Click here to read more.

Supermarkets in the UK switch to Fairtrade bananas

The market for Fairtrade bananas will more than double in 2007 when  Sainsbury and Waitrose convert entirely to ethically sourced supplies of Britain’s favourite fruit. Click here to read more.

Board Meeting

The next FLO's Board Meeting is scheduled for May 22nd and 23rd, 2006. The meeting will be held in Bonn, at the FLO offices.

Interview with Luuk Zonneveld

V.P.: How do you remember FLO five years ago?


L.Z: Five years ago, FLO felt a bit like a big family. We were only 12 people in the office. We used to cook and have lunch together. At the time, the producer organizations were also part of this family. There were roughly 160 organizations and we knew them all. FLO staff visited the organizations quite frequently. There were no inspections and certifications as such. FLO-CERT did not exist back then. Also, we did not have the professional standards we currently have. It was more collegial, informal…At the time, this felt right because it allowed us, together with the producers, to lay the foundations of the Fairtrade system.


Five years later, the small family has become an organization with global outreach. We are almost 60 people, counting FLO-CERT staff. The growth of producer organizations selling to the Fairtrade market has also been amazing. Nowadays, there are more than 550 certified producer organizations present in 58 countries. We have professionalized and the Fairtrade system is now perceived as a worldwide reference for companies that want to do ethical business with producers in developing countries. Of course, the tremendous growth also implies that personal and direct contact with producers has eroded. The challenge is that we do not lose the personal trust of producers and that they continue feeling that Fairtrade Labelling is a system they own. In that sense, we are unique in comparison with other certification schemes. We continue to be a system of and with producers.

V.P: What are your future professional plans?

L.Z: I intend to continue working for Fairtrade Labelling. One area is the strategic development of the Fairtrade system. Another is looking into the feasibility of extending Fairtrade Labelling to more product categories, in particular non-food. There are hundreds of goods produced by people in developing countries who currently do not benefit from Fairtrade and are suffering from very unfair trade rules. I am very much looking forward to taking on this challenge.

V.P: What are in your view the main challenges for the Fairtrade System?

L.Z: I foresee important external and internal challenges. Internally, like any company that has been growing extremely fast, we have to make sure that we manage our own growth and master the financial and human resource investment we need to feed our own development over the years.

Externally, one of our major challenges is to extend Fairtrade Certification to more products and to make Fairtrade Products available in more countries. We need to build a real global system for Fairtrade, a system where you can produce and at the same time sell Fairtrade Certified Products in producing countries. Strengthening this global approach and at the same time allowing sufficient diversity, taking into account all the different cultures and ways of working and economical circumstances worldwide, is one of the major challenges. But if we look back at the last five years, we have made huge steps forwards to achieving that: we have now worldwide standards and we have an International Certification Mark used in more and more countries. We have evolved from a system working on a country-to-country basis to a system with a global approach, global outreach and global success. So I positively believe that we are well equipped to meet the challenges which lie ahead in the next years.

In the coming months, FLO will recruite a new CEO. Mr. Zonneveld will continue to direct the organization until the new CEO assumes his position, and will provide support during his recruitment and induction. In addition, the organisation will be conducting a comprehensive strategic review during 2007, which will be led by Mr Zonneveld and FLO’s Board. It is intended that the new CEO will be in place by the time this review is completed towards the end of 2007.


Kesko Food and Finnish Association for Fairtrade deepen cooperation

"Our customers' buying decisions are increasingly guided by ethical  values. We want to be forerunners and offer the best food solutions at affordable prices. Therefore it's natural that K-food stores offer our customers the best selections of Fairtrade products, too. Providing a variety of choice is perfectly in line with our strategy that emphasizes service and quality," says Kesko Food Ltd's President Terho Kalliokoski.

Pirkka Fairtrade roses are a good example of a product which has rapidly gained popularity among consumers. By the end of 2006, the novelty introduced in September 2006 sold nearly 3.3 million items, representing a retail value of about 1.6 million euros. Of that amount Kesko Food paid approximately 54,000 euros in Fairtrade Premiums to Kenyan flower growers and workers' families.

Kesko Food promotes the sales of Fairtrade products in K-food stores by developing new Fairtrade products in cooperation with the Finnish Association for Fairtrade Labelling, by increasing the availability of Fairtrade products in the stores, and by distributing information  about Fairtrade products in its communications. New Pirkka Fairtrade products are also developed. Product Managers of the Finnish Association for Fairtrade Labelling support Kesko Food in finding suitable products, suppliers and producers.

"We are very happy about Kesko Food's decision. From the start, our cooperation has been close-knit, and now that it'll deepen, we'll be able to join our efforts to make a positive contribution to the lives of increasingly many people in developing countries. Our cooperation will also benefit K-food store customers even more than before," says Tuulia Syvänen, Executive Director of the Finnish Association for Fairtrade Labelling.

First Fairtrade Town in Canada

The Fairtrade Towns initiative is new to Canada, adapted from an international campaign which took root in the United Kingdom in 1999.  By becoming a Fairtrade Town, a community confirms its commitment to supporting the principles of Fairtrade and making the Fairtrade Certified Products more available, therefore improving the livelihoods of millions of farmers and workers around the world.

TransFair Canada’s spokesperson Chantal Havard is proud of this achievement: “We are happy about the engagement of Wolfville’s Town council and community in favour of Fairtrade. Thanks to initiatives like this one, more Canadians will choose Fairtrade Certified Products and more producers in the South will be able to make a decent living”.

Supermarkets in the UK switch to Fairtrade bananas

Sainsbury began the switch to Fairtrade banana suppliers from last month. It is expected that the process will be completed by July, when all ranges, from budget to organic, would carry the Fairtrade Certification Mark.

Waitrose also began the switch to Fairtrade bananas suppliers in February.

Justin King, the chief executive of Sainsbury, said that the supermarket would also reduce the price of Fairtrade bananas by about 20 per cent to match the price of regularly sourced fruit, a move that would cost Sainsbury more than £4 million.

The switch is expected to result in the entire island of St Vincent in the Caribbean switching to Fairtrade principles for bananas.

Harriet Lamb, executive director of the Fairtrade Foundation, said: “This is the most momentous decision for the banana market. Sainsbury’s sells half a billion bananas a year — therefore, the impact on banana farmers and their communities will be hugely significant.”

The conversion by Sainsbury’s will add £4 million to the Fairtrade Premium paid to Fairtrade Banana Producers in 2007.