Flowers and plants

Often the go-to gift to brighten someone’s day, flowers are universally admired for their beauty. Flowers are also a huge industry, with production in places as diverse as Ecuador, Kenya, the Netherlands, and Sri Lanka.

20160 Flowerworkerroses 870
Lucy cuts fresh roses at the Fairtrade Simbi Roses farm in Kenya.
Image © Joerg Boethling

Fairtrade began certifying flowers in 2001, and they’ve grown into one of the most prominent Fairtrade products.

Choosing Fairtrade flowers and plants makes a difference

Most flowers and plants are grown on large estates. As a result, they are among the only Fairtrade products to be exclusively sourced from plantations with hired workers, rather than small-scale farms. Fairtrade’s Hired Labour Standard establishes criteria that aim to improve working conditions on plantations and gives workers a stronger voice with plantation management.

Since 2014, Fairtrade also certifies plants from propagation farms. On these farms, Fairtrade workers cultivate mother plants and harvest cuttings from them. These young plants can then be sold to Fairtrade certified traders, who continue growing them in plant nurseries and market gardens that are located closer to consumer markets.

Fairtrade flowers grow in naturally heated and lit greenhouses due to the abundant heat and sunlight in the source countries. This results in these flowers having a lighter carbon footprint on average than those grown under artificial heat and light in temperate countries, even when factoring in transport.

Fairtrade empowers flower workers in a number of ways:

  • While flowers and plants are one of the few Fairtrade products that do not have a Fairtrade Minimum Price, the lack of a Minimum Price is balanced with a higher Fairtrade Premium – one of the highest of all Fairtrade products. Workers can use these Premium payments to invest in education, community infrastructure, workers’ rights trainings and other projects. They can also decide to use part of it as cash payments, equally distributed among all workers.

  • Fairtrade works with several partners to establish regional living wage benchmarks. A tailored model to increase flower workers' wages towards these levels is being developed.

  • Workers at Fairtrade certified plantations have formal labour contracts as a norm, which is still a rarity on non-certified estates.

  • Although pesticide use is rife in the flower and plant industry, the Fairtrade Standards prohibit the use of the most hazardous pesticides. Our Standards also require that workers are provided proper protection equipment, trainings in pesticide handling, and regular medical check-ups when working with pesticides.

You buy flowers and plants as a symbol of life and love. Why not choose flowers that also aim to improve the livelihoods of the people behind the bouquet?

Related news