Fairtrade Responds to Announcement by Fair Trade USA

10 September 2011

 

 

Fair Trade USA has announced a new initiative under the banner ‘Fair Trade For All.' We wish to clarify that the proposals it contains regarding major changes on coffee certification are the views of Fair Trade USA alone, and do not constitute a change to the policy or standards of Fairtrade International (FLO).

We value our more than 20-year partnership with small-scale cooperatives of coffee growers, whose vision led to the founding of a global Fairtrade standards and certification system. Our commitment to constant innovation means we have regularly reviewed these standards, and explored how they can be improved.

For example, we recently introduced the New Standards Framework for Small Producer Organisations to bring more clarity and flexibility to the system, and support a dynamic development and business planning process for these groups. We responded to the volatile coffee price with a range of initiatives to support cooperatives of small farmers and those trading with them. And we recently launched a project to investigate how we might open up Fairtrade certification to more diverse producer set-ups across a range of product categories, while keeping our focus on working with those who share Fairtrade’s values of organisational democracy, transparency and greater equity in trade.

Fairtrade International is committed to a multi-stakeholder consultation and standard setting process, with our stakeholders represented at the highest levels of decision-making and governance. We have listened carefully to organisations of small-scale producers, as well as to traders, licensees, NGOs, trades unions and workers’ representatives, and the wider fair trade movement, in relation to the issue of Fairtrade certification for large-scale coffee plantations.

Recognising that 70 percent of the world’s coffee is produced by smallholders with less than 10 hectares of land, and that around 10 million small-scale coffee farmers depend on coffee as their primary source of income, feedback to date has been that the global standard for coffee should remain fully focussed, as originally intended, on delivering market access on Fairtrade terms for smaller-scale farmers. We will continue to explore how we can expand our reach in this regard, focussing on partnership with producer organisations committed to democracy, transparency and empowerment.

For other products, including bananas, tea, flowers, fresh fruit and vegetables, the Fairtrade system already works with large-scale farms to push for improvements in working conditions and worker empowerment on these farms. Here too, Fairtrade International is innovating its approach. We recently began looking into improvements for our Hired Labour Standards and strategy, and strengthened our partnership with trade unions and labour rights organisations. Our Workers Rights and Empowerment Advisory Committee seeks to ensure that the Fairtrade movement plays a full role, from the Fairtrade Standards to producer support and training, to advocacy and policy, in improving the lives of workers in the sectors where we believe we can have most impact.

Fairtrade International is also proud of the role its members play in bringing about greater consumer awareness. As Fair Trade USA has highlighted, the global FAIRTRADE Certification Mark has reached high levels of awareness, and not just in Europe. Recognition and awareness is growing fast in Australia, New Zealand, Japan and Canada. Recently Fairtrade has been established in new markets such as South Korea, Kenya and South Africa, and the potential to build South-South Fairtrade markets in the future is very exciting.

We believe that the adoption of one global Fairtrade label for products certified under international Fairtrade Standards has played a major role in building awareness, as well as facilitating more cost effective cross-border sales of Fairtrade products, driving sales and benefits to farmers and workers. Recent research by Globescan clearly shows that Fairtrade is the now most-recognised ethical label in the world.

We are also proud to be an active partner in the grassroots Fair Trade movement, working alongside activist groups, dedicated Fair Trade Organisations, local town authorities and NGOs to build one of the world’s most dynamic social change networks active today. By working together, we are always stronger than we are alone. We reaffirm our commitment to collaboration in the Fair Trade movement, working toward a shared overall vision of trade justice for farmers and workers around the world.

 
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