Fairtrade products and ingredients

More and more businesses are making commitments to responsible sourcing – which means buying their key commodities fairly and sustainably as a core part of how they do business. This is great news – and we want to make sure Fairtrade producers benefit from it.

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Tea, cocoa, nuts, and sugar – each can be an ingredient or a standalone product.
Image © Willem Groeneweg

Owing to the range of commodities for which there are Fairtrade Standards, and to the variety of production techniques that yield the finished products consumers find on store shelves, Fairtrade uses different approaches to fit the needs of farmers, workers, companies, and consumers.

Single ingredient products

Some supermarket products consist of only one commodity, such as bananas or coffee, fresh fruits, and many types of tea and honey.

Companies that want to sell these products purchase them as Fairtrade and can trace them through the value chain from field to supermarket shelf. These products are indicated with the classic FAIRTRADE Mark.

Ingredients in composite products

For products made from more than one ingredient (‘composite products’ like cookies, breakfast cereals, or ice cream), companies have several options in how they commit to sourcing as Fairtrade.

All available ingredients are Fairtrade certified

One option is to source on Fairtrade terms all of the ingredients that are available as Fairtrade in the global market. We sometimes call this the ‘all that can be’ model, since all product ingredients that can be Fairtrade, are Fairtrade. These products are indicated using the FAIRTRADE Mark with a black arrow.

Some ingredients are Fairtrade certified – the Fairtrade Sourced Ingredient model

Another option is that companies source one or more ingredients as Fairtrade, but not all ingredients. This may be across a product line, or even across the entire business. It’s a way for companies and brands to commit to using greater volumes of sustainably produced ingredients, and it benefits farmers who can sell more of their produce on Fairtrade terms.

Producers told us they wanted more options for Fairtrade sales, and we listened. Starting in 2018, Fairtrade expanded the commodities that can be sourced as single ingredients, from three (cocoa, sugar, cotton) to all Fairtrade certified commodities except for bananas and coffee. This sourcing model is called Fairtrade Sourced Ingredient, and expands on the former model (known as the Fairtrade Sourcing Program).

The new model and its white FAIRTRADE Marks also provide more transparency to consumers, who can clearly see which ingredients are Fairtrade and can read more details on the back of each package.

Regardless of the model under which a company purchases a commodity on Fairtrade terms, the benefits for farmers and workers are the same. Let’s say a company commits to sourcing more cocoa each year to use across all their chocolate bar ranges and 100 percent cocoa powder. Through increased sales on Fairtrade terms, the cocoa producers obtain more benefits each year, such as improved earnings from the Fairtrade Minimum Price and Fairtrade Premium.

For a short period of time, both the Fairtrade Sourcing Program and the Fairtrade Sourced Ingredient Marks may be available on the shelves. But no need to be confused! The Fairtrade Sourced Ingredient model is basically an expansion of the older program, and will be the only one available moving forward.

Read more about Fairtrade requirements for traceability.