Herbs and spices

We use herbs and spices to liven up our food. But the farmers and workers who grow them are often left with a bitter taste in their mouth. Fortunately a huge variety of herbs and spices are now available as Fairtrade.

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A Fairtrade farmer inspecting vanilla flowers in Madagascar
Image © Sarina Rahn

This means shoppers can choose from a diverse collection of fresh and dried Fairtrade herbs and spices. Vanilla, rooibos, cardamom, turmeric and saffron are just a few examples. Cook with them, bake a cake, make a cup of tea, pop them in the bathtub: the possibilities are endless!

Choosing Fairtrade herbs and spices makes a difference

While the number of farmers and workers that grow herbs and spices is vast and diverse, the number of companies that trade and market them is not. This leads to a huge power imbalance when it comes to trade, with growers often feeling the pinch in terms of price.

The people who grow herbs and spices also face other challenges. Many work in remote areas, with poor transport and telecommunications links. This increases their production costs, hampers their market access and makes them reliant on a limited number of traders that visit their area.

Changing weather patterns and political instability can fuel price fluctuations, making it even harder for smallholder farmers and plantation workers to earn a decent living from their crops.

Fairtrade responds to these challenges in a number of ways.

  • For several long-standing Fairtrade herbs and spices, such as rooibos and vanilla, there is a Fairtrade Minimum Price aimed at covering the costs of sustainable production, as well as a Fairtrade Premium on top of that price.

  • Among the many spices and herbs that Fairtrade includes, there are some which don't have a Fairtrade Minimum Price. Traders that purchase these products on Fairtrade terms must pay producers a Premium of 15 percent on top of the commercial sales price.

  • Small-scale farmers and plantation workers invest the Fairtrade Premium to foster the economic, social and ecological wellbeing of their communities. Popular investments include education, health care and community projects as well as processing equipment and loans or cash payments to members.

  • Beyond the Fairtrade Minimum Price and Premium, Fairtrade brings many other benefits for the farmers and workers who grow herbs and spices. These include access to credit ahead of harvest, support on protection of health and safety as well as the environment, and training on cultivation and processing techniques.

Whether savoury, spicy, sweet or succulent, herbs and spices add a colourful kick to our cuisine and our cultures. Choosing Fairtrade helps to ensure that the farmers and workers who cultivate these products can continue to add spice to all of our lives!

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Fairtrade workers bundling dried vanilla.
Image © Sarina Rahn
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Rice farmers used some Fairtrade Premium funds to make a sewing and craft centre for women, to supplement their income.
Image © Didier Gentilhomme

What is the Fairtrade premium?

The Fairtrade Premium is an extra sum of money paid on top of the selling price that farmers or workers invest in projects of their choice.

They decide together and democratically how to spend the Fairtrade Premium to reach their goals, such as improving their farming, businesses, or health and education in their community. Farmers and workers know best what their priorities and needs are.

Since 2014, Fairtrade farmers and workers have received well over half a billion euros in Fairtrade Premium.

This is a unique benefit enabled by your decision to buy Fairtrade products.

Looking for Fairtrade Products?

Fairtrade products are widely available. The blue countries and territories on the map below have Fairtrade organizations that promote Fairtrade products. Their websites often include a product finder to show you the full variety of Fairtrade products near you. Even if there isn't a Fairtrade organization where you live, Fairtrade products may still be available – look for our familiar marks on products!

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