How we set standards

Here you can learn more about the process we follow to develop and revise our standards, including how you can participate.

20569 Quality Control Coffee Indonesia 870
Sorting coffee beans for quality at a Fairtrade cooperative in Indonesia.
Image © Natalie Bertrams

Fairtrade standards are set in accordance with the ISEAL Code of Good Practice on Standard Setting. This process involves wide consultation with stakeholders.

Decisions about Fairtrade standards are made by the Fairtrade International Standards Committee.

Standards and Pricing Unit workplan

The standard setting process is managed by Fairtrade International’s Standards and Pricing team, which publishes its annual workplan as part of good practice in standards setting.

Download the unit's workplan for 2019

Procedures for setting Fairtrade Standards

The procedures below describe the process followed by Fairtrade International’s Standards and Pricing Unit when creating new standards and revising existing standards:

ISEAL Code of Good Practice for setting Standards

Our procedures are compliant with the ISEAL Code of Good Practice on Standard Setting.

This means that the Standards are set on the basis of consultations with the major stakeholders in the Fairtrade system. While Fairtrade International sets the Standards and supports producers to meet them, a separate certification company, FLOCERT, regularly inspects and certifies producers and traders against the Standards.

The ISEAL code brings a high degree of credibility to the standard setting of organizations such as Fairtrade International. The areas and levels of responsibility are further explained on the ISEAL website.

Fairtrade International has successfully demonstrated overall compliance against ISEAL’s Code of Good Practice for Setting Social and Environmental Standards (Standard-Setting Code) v 6.0. Fairtrade International’s compliance, as recommended by the independent evaluator, was formally approved by the ISEAL Membership Committee on 25 May 2016.

As a full member of the ISEAL Alliance, Fairtrade International’s compliance signifies a commitment to delivering positive impact and embracing credible practices. Furthermore, the process of independent evaluation and approval by ISEAL’s Membership Committee means that Fairtrade International’s claim of compliance with ISEAL's Codes of Good Practice is a credible one. The latest version of Fairtrade International’s Standard Operating Procedure for the Development of Fairtrade Standards, a key instrument for the implementation of the ISEAL Code for standard-setting, can be found here.

For more information, read our Fairtrade Standard-setting Public System Report.

Consultation process

When new Fairtrade standards are proposed or existing Fairtrade standards are reviewed, the procedures require that relevant stakeholders are consulted. Stakeholders can comment at each stage of the process:

  1. Project description: sometimes a project description is included to provide background that mainly relates to the scope and objectives of the new or revised standard.
  2. Standard drafts: comments mainly relate to specific questions and proposed content.
  3. Comment period: after publication of a standard, stakeholders may formally comment within a given time frame. Comments are considered for scheduling the review of the applicable standard. At the end of the timeframe for formal feedback, stakeholders may still submit their comments at any time to the Standards and Pricing team.

See our list of ongoing standards projects.

Fairtrade International Standards Committee

Decisions about Fairtrade Standards are taken by the Fairtrade International Standards Committee. Members are appointed and its Terms of References are approved by the Fairtrade International Board.

Download the list of Standards Committee members

The Standards Committee ensures that decisions taken on standards take into account the views of all the relevant stakeholders and are in line with Fairtrade International's mission and policy statements.

The Standards Committee meetings in 2020 will take place on

  • March 25 - 26
  • July 8 - 9
  • September 23 - 24
  • November 25 - 26

Minutes of the Standards Committee

In its meetings, the Standards Committee not only decides on the revision of the standards, but also on the planning of other works and policies related to standards.

For the Minutes of the latest Standards Committee meetings, please see below: