What is Fairtrade?
Not all trade is fair! Farmers and workers at the beginning of the chain don’t always get a fair share of the benefits of trade. Fairtrade enables consumers to put this right.
What is the difference between Fair Trade and Fairtrade? What is a surveillance audit? – Find out with the Fair Trade Glossary (PDF), a listing of all fair trade terminology created by Fairtrade International, FLO-CERT and World Fair Trade Organization (WFTO).
Fairtrade is an alternative approach to conventional trade and is based on a partnership between producers and consumers. Fairtrade offers producers a better deal and improved terms of trade. This allows them the opportunity to improve their lives and plan for their future. Fairtrade offers consumers a powerful way to reduce poverty through their every day shopping.
When a product carries the FAIRTRADE Mark it means the producers and traders have met Fairtrade Standards. The Standards are designed to address the imbalance of power in trading relationships, unstable markets and the injustices of conventional trade.
The Charter of Fair Trade Principles
In 2009, Fairtrade International (FLO) along with the World Fair Trade Organization adopted the Charter of Fair Trade Principles, which provides a single international reference point for Fair Trade. The charter includes our common vision, definition of Fair Trade, core principles and the distinct approaches to Fair Trade. FLO endorses the definition of Fair Trade and adheres to the Principles.
You can download the principles in multiple languages below and read an introductory letter from Ian Bretman, Vice Chair of the Fairtrade International's Board of Directors.
Introductory Letter from Ian Bretman (PDF in English)
There are two distinct sets of Fairtrade Standards, which acknowledge different types of disadvantaged producers. One set of standards applies to smallholders that are working together in co-operatives or other organizations with a democratic structure. The other set applies to workers, whose employers pay decent wages, guarantee the right to join trade unions, ensure health and safety standards and provide adequate housing where relevant.
Fairtrade Standards also cover terms of trade. Most products have a Fairtrade Price, which is the minimum that must be paid to the producers. In addition producers get an additional sum, the Fairtrade Premium, to invest in their communities.
Fairtrade Minimum Prices
The minimum price paid to Fairtrade producers is determined by the Fairtrade Standards. It applies to most Fairtrade certified products. This price aims to ensure that producers can cover their average costs of sustainable production. It acts as a safety net for farmers at times when world markets fall below a sustainable level. Without this, farmers are completely at the mercy of the market.
When the market price is higher than the Fairtrade minimum, the buyer must pay the higher price. Producers and traders can also negotiate higher prices on the basis of quality and other attributes.
The Fairtrade Premium
In addition to the Fairtrade price, there is an additional sum of money, called the Fairtrade Premium. This money goes into a communal fund for workers and farmers to use to improve their social, economic and environmental conditions.
The use of this additional income is decided upon democratically by producers within the farmers’ organization, or by workers on a plantation. The Premium is invested in education and healthcare, farm improvements to increase yield and quality, or processing facilities to increase income.
As many projects funded by the Premium are communal, the broader community, outside the producer organization often benefits from Fairtrade.
There are now thousands of products that carry the FAIRTRADE Mark. Fairtrade standards exist for food products ranging from tea and coffee to fresh fruits and nuts. There are also standards for non-food products such as flowers and plants, sports balls and seed cotton.
Who is behind Fairtrade?
The following organizations are behind Fairtrade:
Fairtrade International (FLO)
FLO is a non-profit, multi stakeholder body that is responsible for the strategic direction of Fairtrade, sets Fairtrade standards and supports producers. See how it is governed.
FLO-CERT is an independent certification company, owned by FLO. FLO-CERT inspects producers and traders to ensure they comply with Fairtrade standards.
Fairtrade labelling initiatives
These are national organizations that market Fairtrade in their country. There are currently 19 Fairtrade labelling initiatives covering 24 countries in Europe, North America, Japan, Australia and New Zealand. These organizations also license companies to use the FAIRTRADE Mark on products in their country.
Fairtrade producer networks
These are associations that Fairtrade certified producer groups may join. There are currently three producer networks, representing producers in Africa, Asia and Latin America and the Caribbean. Through these networks, Fairtrade producers can influence decisions that affect their future.
Fairtrade marketing organizations
These are national organizations that market and promote Fairtrade in their country, similar to labelling initiatives. Fairtrade International directly licenses companies in these countries to use the FAIRTRADE Certification Mark. There are currently three Fairtrade marketing organizations, in South Korea, Hong Kong and the Czech Republic.
Find Fairtrade Minimum Prices and Premiums