Dear Reader,

We are happy to send you the first 2008 edition of the FLO Newsletter. In this issue we have a broad spectrum of Fairtrade news from around the world. Input from FLO's Producer Business Unit, FLO's Standards Unit, Liaison Officers and Labelling Initiatives have made this a particularly well-rounded edition. From all the activities and work reported it is plain to see that Fairtrade Labelling increases in momentum and we are certain 2008 will be a fairer year than ever.

With kind regards from Bonn,

FLO International Editorial Team


Current News
Kenyan Fairtrade Certified Producers working towards ensuring supply
Fairtrade Flower producers in Kenya count on Valentines Day and Mother's Day for 20 percent of their annual income

The current situation of violence which is ravaging Kenya is having a negative effect on the economy of the country and businesses are encountering serious difficulties. FLO Producer Business Unit (PBU) through its Liaison Officers in the country are in permanent contact with the currently 37 Fairtrade Certified Producers Organizations operating in Kenya. Currently 17 flower farms, 16 tea cooperatives and estates, three coffee cooperatives and one sugar cooperative are Fairtrade Certified in the eastern African country.

From the information FLO has received to date, Fairtrade Certified Producer Organizations in Kenya are continuing with their export activities despite the fact that they are facing serious difficulties to transport their produce, given the situation of insecurity across the country. Transport by road predominantly in the western part of the country is proving to be particularly challenging and citizens and businesses alike in this area are counting on the intervention of police escorts for obvious security reasons. Despite these difficulties, Fairtrade Producer Organizations have been able to continue supplying their markets and meeting their commitments with buyers and are fully committed to continue their business operations.

FLO International and its members would like to express their profound solidarity with Fairtrade Certified Organizations in Kenya as well as the Kenyan society as a whole and would like to encourage companies and consumers to continue buying products from Kenya. Now, more than ever, workers and farmers in the African country need our full support.


  To top

Requesting suppliers to meet Fairtrade Standards isn’t against free market competition

The fact that governments and other public institutions require their coffee suppliers to meet Fairtrade Standards does not undermine free competition. This is the verdict pronounced by the preliminary injunction court in the summary proceedings brought recently by Dutch coffee supplier; Douwe Egberts, against the Province of Groningen in the Netherlands. Douwe Egberts instigated proceedings because of the requirement in the purchasing policy of the Province of Groningen that all the coffee they buy should bear the Fairtrade Certification Mark. Douwe Egberts allegated that was discriminatory as it was excluding other coffee suppliers.

FLO International and it member Labelling Initiatives are very pleased by the tribunal decision as it gives governmental institutions the freedom to require suppliers to provide coffee that bears the Fairtrade Certification Mark.

To find out more about this court case, you can read the press release from Max Havelaar Netherlands, FLO member Labelling Initiative in the Netherlands.

  To top

FLO at the first European Fair Trade Fair
Alex Assanvo, from FLO International, at the FLO stand in Lyon.

1-3 February, 2008 the city of Lyon in France hosted the first ever European Fair Trade Fair. The event was perceived by the organizers as a success in terms of the number and quality of the exhibitors and interested visitors. The numerous round table discussions which took place during the three day event were also very successful in terms of the relevance of the topics discussed and the expertise shown. Overall, the fair was an excellent platform to learn about the work of diverse fair trade organizations, share best experiences and discuss further steps to strengthen the Fair Trade movement worldwide.

FLO International together with its member Labelling Initiative in France, Max Havelaar France, had an important presence at the fair. At the stand, the FLO-Max Havelaar team answered questions and provided information on Fairtrade Certification. Also, staff members from FLO and Max Havelaar France participated actively in different round table discussions and side events.

Given the success and good feedback received, the organizers are already thinking about a second fair for 2009. For more information please visit the website:

  To top

Inside FLO
FLO International Adjusts Fairtrade Minimum Prices for Arabica Coffee to Cover Costs of Sustainable Production

Fairtrade Minimum Prices for Arabica coffee will be adjusted upwards to ensure Small Farmers’ Organisations continue to receive a price which covers the costs of sustainable production. From 1 June 2008 all Fairtrade Certified Coffee Producers will receive at least 125 USD cents per pound for Fairtrade Certified washed Arabica and 120 USD cents for unwashed Arabica, or the market price, if higher. This represents an average increase of 5 USD cents per pound. For Fairtrade Certified organic coffee an extra minimum differential of 20 cents is being applied.  Additionally, all producers will continue to receive a Fairtrade Premium of 10 cents per pound for investment in community and business improvements. These new Fairtrade Minimum Prices will be valid through at least June 2010, when another price review may take place. Please click here to read more.

Coffee cherries. Photo: Didier Gentilhomme
FLO International Announces Fairtrade Minimum Prices for Rooibos Tea

FLO International is pleased to announce another milestone in the development of Fairtrade Standards: the introduction of the first Fairtrade Minimum Prices for Rooibos tea, which will come into practice starting the 1st of January, 2008.

The Fairtrade Minimum Price for Small Farmers' Organisations of Rooibos will be set at 30 ZAR/kg, while the Fairtrade Premium will be 5 ZAR/kg. In the case of hired labour situations, the Fairtrade Minimum Price will be set at 23 ZAR/kg and the Premium 12 ZAR/kg. Please click here to read more about Rooibos Minimum Prices.

Training for FLO Liaison Officers
PBU Latin American team during training in El Guabo, Ecuador

In the last two months the regional teams of the FLO Producer Business Unit (PBU) have held their yearly Liaison Officer trainings.

The Asian PBU training was the first to take place. It was held at FLO in Bonn from 16-20 December 2007. The training focused on preparation for supporting producers concerning the new FLO-Cert certification system. The team also had the opportunity to review the producer support work carried out in 2007 and discuss work plan objectives for the first half of 2008.

PBU West and East Africa team held their training from 3-8 December in Cairo. During the one week seminar the African team focused on updating partnerships, external training on environmental issues, interpersonal communication and coaching.

PBU Latin America held its training in Ecuador from 14-18 January. Besides discussing objectives for 2008 and reviewing the work done in 2007, the training also included several practical exercises with visits to Fairtrade Certified Producer Organizations. On the 16th of January, the team visited El Guabo, one of the Fairtrade Certified Banana Small Farmers’ Organizations in Ecuador, to provide training on the "internal control committee for Small Farmers' Organizations."

The training from the Latin American team was very well received by the farmers of El Guabo as well as by the management team. At the end of the training, Lianne Zoeteweij, Manager of El Guabo, commented: "On behalf of all the members of our association, I would like to thank the FLO Liaison Officer  for the training on the internal control committee. The information provided was not only good, but very practical and useful to apply to our daily work. From now on, we are going to use the recommended control indicators. It is so easy, that one only needs to be able to read and write to execute a good internal control. Thank you very much for offering this tool for free! Continue spreading this information so that many other organizations can strengthen their internal control through their own members!"

ID Cards for FLO Liaison Officers
Model of an ID card for a Liaison Officer

Since the beginning of 2008  FLO Liaison Officers  have been using an ID card with their name and photo. This clearly identifies them as Liaison Officers working for the Producer Business Unit (PBU) of FLO International.    

Liaison Officers work in producing countries with Fairtrade Certified Producer Organizations and are responsible for offering information, advice and training to producers, helping them comply with Fairtrade Standards and seize new market opportunities.  By the end of 2008 there will be 38 Liasion Officers working in 45 countries.

The ID cards are the property of FLO International and can only be used by PBU staff members. With this identification, producers can recognize the members of our team, who have received the appropriate training and  who are therefore qualified to carry out support activities with Fairtrade Certified Producer Organizations.  It will help distinguish FLO's well trained, knowledgable staff supporting producers organizations.

Standards workplan for 2008

2008 has just started and like every year the FLO Standards Unit is making public its annual work plan. Some of the major Standards projects which will be finalized in the course of 2008 are the review of the Generic Fairtrade Standards for Small Farmers' Organizations and the approval of the Generic Fairtrade Trade Standards. The Generic Fairtrade Trade Standards are a novelty which aims to harmonize trade standards across products categories and which will imply that producers and traders will have to comply to additional criteria.

Concerning development of new product standards; soybeans, olives and olive oil, among others, will be introduced into the Fairtrade system. This will allow new producer organizations in different parts of the world to access and benefit from the Fairtrade market.

For a full list of all projects which will be undertaken by the FLO Standards Unit during 2008 you can consult the workplan on the FLO website.

Producers in the Spotlight
Vietnamese Fairtrade Producers selling on the local market with the Fairtrade Mark
Launch of Betterday tea in Hanoi, on December 4th 2007

Fairtrade Certified Producers are not exclusively dependent on exports to earn a living but can also now sell their products with the Fairtrade Certification Mark locally. This is the case of Thien Hoang Organic Tea Club, a Fairtrade Certified Tea Cooperative in Thai Nguyen Province in Vietnam. Since December 2007, the tea that Thien Hoang’s 18 farmer members produce can be purchased in several shops in the Vietnamese capital Hanoi.

Through the help of FLO’s Liaison Officer in Vietnam, the tea from Thien Hoang is now available to the Vietnamese consumer under the brand Betterday, from the company MDI, and carries the Fairtrade Certification Mark. The local market is an additional opportunity for the farmers to get the Fairtrade Minimum Price as well as the Fairtrade Premium for their high quality organic certified tea. During 2007, the members of Thien Hoang have been able to sell a high proportion of their tea under Fairtrade conditions and thanks to this new commercial partnership with MDI are hoping to continue increasing their Fairtrade sales in 2008. The extra Fairtrade Premium they have received will be reinvested in their cooperative in order to strengthen their business operations.

If you want to find out how to sell Fairtrade Certified Products in countries where FLO has no national organization, please click here.

  To top

NAP Board Meeting in Southern India
NAP's Board Meeting in Coimbatore, South India

On the 20th of January the  Network of Asian Producers (NAP), which represents Fairtrade Certified Producer Organizations in Asia within FLO, held its board meeting in the city of Coimbatore, South India. The member from Pakistan could not attend due to problems in his country. Other board members from India, Sri Lanka and Indonesia were present.

The focus of the board’s discussion were on strengthening the organization and chalking out a workplan for NAP’s activities. Smooth flow of information to and capacity building of smaller producers will be at the core of NAP’s 2008 programs.

Since there are numerous members of NAP that are tea plantations it has been decided that in the future one Joint Body member should accompany the plantation management representative to General Assemblies. Both combined will have the right to one vote at these assemblies.

  To top

Rice Fund Surin: Fairtrade Certified with Flying Colors
rice warehouse with rice ready for sale from the Rice Fund Surin

If there would be an outstanding merit award for Fairtrade Certified Producers then the Rice Fund Surin in Thailand would be a recipient of such an award. These rice farmers in the north-eastern part of Thailand have fulfilled all the criteria for being Fairtrade Certified with flying colors with no requirement for progressive improvement. But this exemplary Fairtrade Small Farmers' Organization did not develop without hard work and change.

At the beginning of 2005, Rice Fund Surin decided to take a big step forward by organizing on a grass-roots level to become independent from its exporter; an enormous challenge for a cooperative with originally only 45 members. It was a worthwhile, yet challenging process. The newly independent Small Farmers' Organization then applied for independent Fairtrade Certification, which they received in August 2005. From the start of certification the Rice Fund Surin showed that it has improved working conditions for farmers, increased environmental sustainability in their region and invested in organizational development for the small farmers. As of July, 2007 the Rice Fund Surin has 363 members.

In order to learn from this “best practice” it can be useful to take into consideration what these Thai rice farmers have as advice for becoming such a successful Fairtrade Certified Producer. During a visit from the regional FLO Liaison Officer in May, 2007 the Rice Fund Surin farmers were asked about their experience when they moved towards autonomy.  A main lesson expressed was:

Before gaining independence, farmers are quite sheltered… with no need to form a strong group, because all communication, all exporting and marketing was done by the exporter/NGO. Only after being free-standing, the group started to understand how difficult it is to market them selves. They learned that customer quality and packaging comes first and after that focus on both organic and Fairtrade.

Another bit of advice from the Rice Fund Surin about the process is that;

In the beginning, there will be marketing problems for sure when the group is suddenly faced with the problem of determining prices and deciding about presentation of their product. The group must have the ability to recognize marketing opportunity.

The Rice Fund Surin has been using the Fairtrade Premium to support new members and those who wish to convert to organic farming. Much of their premium money is used for awareness building and micro credit schemes for farmers.  Diversification in order to improve sustainability and annual income has also been a focal point for the group. Likewise the money from the Fairtrade Premium helps to support various educational, cultural and environmental projects in the area, such as planting trees in the community forest.

One of the main ideals of Fairtrade is the empowerment of producers. Perhaps the key to success for the Rice Fund Surin is the focus and respect the group has for this empowerment. As stated by the Thai group itself:

We must understand that the group is not an assembly of people for the purpose of sale. The group is an assembly of people that try to solve their own problems (poverty) by many means, one of them being sale of their products.

News from Labelling Initiatives
Trip to Asian Producers
Cotton farmers that AOFG/Zameen are working with in Andhra Pradesh, India and trip participants

In October, 2007 FLO led a trip to visit Fairtrade Certified Producers in India. The trip objective was two fold; to appreciate the situation of Small Farmers' Organizations (SFO) in India and to become better informed of contract production (CP) situations in the production of Fairtrade Certified Cotton in the region. Labelling Initiatives (LIs) staff members from Max Havelaar Denmark, Norway, France and the Netherlands, along with those from the Fairtrade Foundation and FLO took part in the visit.

The first week of the stay concentrated on visiting the following Fairtrade Producer Organizations: Malanad Vanilla Small Farmers Organization, Dakshina Kannada Vanilla Small Farmers Organization, Uttara Kannada Vanilla Small Farmers' Organization, Krishi Sughanda Farmers Association, Malabar Organics, Fair Trade Alliance Kerala and an applicant for certification. In the FLO Producer Business Unit’s report on the visit it was noted that Fairtrade Small Producer Organizations of herbs, spices and nuts in India are in a challenging situation. Currently many of the producers can only sell a few spices or a small quantity of their products under Fairtrade conditions. A revised methodology in pricing for nuts, herbs and spices will enable producers to sell a greater variety and quantity of products with Fairtrade . Also greater commitment of market and traders for these products will facilitate the Indian Fairtrade Certified Producers to improve their business.

During the second week, staff members visited all Fairtrade Certified Cotton Producers in India who have contract production situations. These included: Pratibha Syntex Ltd, Agrocel- Rapar, Agrocel- Orissa, ETC CHETNA and AOFG – Zameen. All participants obtained a good understanding of the various dynamics within these projects. Fairtrade Standards for contract production are currently restricted to India and Pakistan for the production rice and cotton. In these regional specific standards, farmers that are not yet organized or loosely organized are allowed to enter the Fairtrade system with support of a promoting body. This can be any entity that is capable and willing to support farmers in organizing into a Small Farmers' Organization and provides capacity building for them to become independent in the future. With growth of Fairtrade Certified Cotton, the number of cotton producers applying as contract production for India has increased in the past year.

We would like to take this occasion to thank the producer organizations in India for their time and commitment in hosting the LIs and FLO staff during this informative and enriching visit.

First Fairtrade Week in Estonia
Mr. John Kanjagaile of Kagera Cooperatives Union of Tanzania at the opening of a photo exhibiton presenting Fairtrade Certified Coffee to Mr. Peeter Müürsepp, Rector of Audentes International University on November 14, 2007.

A Fairtrade week was initiated for the first time in Estonia from 12-18 November, 2007. A thematic week was organized by the Estonian Green Movemement, an NGO which actively advocates responsible consumption and sustainable ways of life, and acts as a focal point for Fairtrade activities in Estonia.

Retail activities focused on tastings and a lottery which awarded the winner with Oke Fairtrade fruits in the amount of the winner's weight! The central activities and media attention was on the special guests from Tanzania, Finland and the Netherlands. Mr. John Kanjagaile of Kagera Cooperatives Union, a Fairtrade Certified Coffee Producer Organization in Tanzania, was met by the Foreign Affairs Committee chair at Riigikogu (Parliament of Estonia) calling for the Members of Parliament to follow the steps of the European Parliament and the Nordic counterparts to switch to Fairtrade Certified Coffee and Tea.

The Estonian Chamber of Commerce hosted a morning coffee and discussion with Fairtrade gurus such as Mr. Erkki Toivanen, Fairtrade Goodwill Ambassador in Finland, Mrs. Ilona Hofstra of Max Havelaar Netherlands and Mr. Jeroen Kroezen of Agrofair fruit company. The event which attracted a wide audience of retailers, enterprises, media and NGOs was supported by the Royal Dutch Embassy in Tallinn, Association for Promoting Fairtrade in Finland and the Estonian Foreign Policy Institute.

A special title “Fairtrade Friend” was awarded to Open Estonia Foundation as the first organization using Fairtrade Certified Products in its office and events, and for its committed support of global justice issues. A photo exhibition on the life of Fairtrade farmers in Nicaragua was displayed in Audentes International University, which continues to be shown in various public locations in the coming year.

For more information, please see http: www.fairtrade.eeor contact: Riina Kuusik, Fairtrade project manager, at: 

Mail from Labelling Initiatives

There are many interesting initiatives, along with the development of new product marketing, going on at the national level. Here are some comments, sent in by the Fairtrade Labelling Initiatives (LIs) themselves on what has been happening in Fairtrade in the last two months.

Fairtrade Austria

Fairtrade Austria proudly presents fresh fruits! New in the Fairtrade product line are sweet organic pineapples from Costa Rica and Ghana, colourful organic mangoes from Peru and Brazil and creamy organic avocados from México and South Africa. Let's hope that these tropical fruits will be as successful as the Fairtrade organic bananas, which account for 20 % of the total banana sales in Austria.

Transfair Canada

The Center for International Studies and Cooperation (CECI) and TransFair Canada are delighted to announce the arrival to Canada of Fairtrade Certified Shea Butter, an ingredient prized by the cosmetics industry.

Join the growing number of Manitobans who are supporting Fairtrade! Take Fair Trade Manitoba’s One-Month Challenge (OMC) and pledge to drink Fairtrade Coffee/Tea and eat Fairtrade chocolate for 30 days, beginning February 14, 2008.

Fairtrade in Estonia

See article above on Estonia’s Fairtrade Week. The Association for Promoting Fairtrade in Finland will move further "South" to Latvia with its initiatives to engage other Baltic states as well. A workshop for retailers and NGOs is planned in Riga, Latvia to be organized with the help of Latvian NGDO Platform Lapas.

Fairtrade Finland

The amount of Fairtrade products available in Finland doubled from 142 (February 2006) to 300 in seven months.

The volumes increased as well. We don’t have the final figures yet, but our estimate is that the value of the sales increased in cut flowers 250%, citruses 205% , coffee 124%, wine 113%, sugar 52%. When all products are combined, the percentage is around 40%. We are expecting that the growth will continue this year. For example, now we have about 50 cotton products in Finland, but in the end of 2008 we expect to have 200.

Transfair Germany

In the next two months TransFair Germany will be present at many fairs. The schedule includes the Internationalen Grüne Woche in Berlin, the FA!R 2008 Handelsmesse and Fachtagung in Dortmund, ISM in Köln, IGEDO in Düsseldorf and Biofach in Nürnberg.

Fairtrade Italy

Funded by the European Union, in March 2007 the NGO CEFA the Seed of Solidarity, the Slow Food Foundation for Biodiversity and Fairtrade Italia gave the go-ahead to start a three-year European project to make the public aware of the problems of sustainable development and the South of the world, thereby facilitating interrelationships between poor and underdeveloped countries.

Max Havelaar Switzerland

At the moment in Switzerland we are all more than busy with adapting the logo to the international Fairtrade Certification Mark. The first products will bear the new Fairtrade Mark from March, 1st on. Besides we have enlarged our cotton product line: our partner manor is now offering men’s underwear too!

The Fairtrade Foundation, UK

Members of the public can enjoy a fairground with a difference at the launch of Fairtrade Fortnight 2008. The two-week annual campaign (25 Feb – 9 March) celebrating products carrying the Fairtrade Certification Mark kicks off with an action-packed event on London’s South Bank on Sunday 24th February 2008 (11am – 4pm).

Transfair USA

A very exciting event is coming up on January 31, 2008 here: Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART), the commuter train system which services the San Francisco Bay Area, is partnering with Tully’s Coffee and TransFair USA in a Fair Trade Certified™ coffee giveaway titled, “BART Rider Thank You Day.” The first event will be held on January 31, and quarterly thereafter – building awareness of Fair Trade Certified to many thousands of commuters.

Coming up
Come and visit us at Biofach in Nuremberg

For its fifth consecutive year, FLO International will have a stand at Biofach, the biggest world fair for organic products, which will take place in Nuremberg, Germany, from the 21- 24 February 2008. You will find our team in the Hall 1, stand number 339.

FLO International will be sharing its stand with FLO-CERT, the certification company which is responsible for the inspection and certification of producer organizations for compliance with the Fairtrade Standards.

Our team will be happy to answer your questions and to provide you with further information regarding Fairtrade Standards and Fairtrade Certification.

For more information about Biofach, please visit the fair official website.