How do products become Fair Trade?

Fair Trade Certified products receive third party certification. The Fairtrade Labeling Organization (FLO) is an international organization that establishes strict criteria and follows a rigorous certification process. FLO certifies Fair Trade cooperatives in developing regions of the world, and then FairTradeUSA, following FLO’s criteria, certifies the supply line from the FLO certified producers to the retailers here in the US. IMO is another certifier that recognizes FLO certification of the farmer organizations, but also certifies farmer organizations directly, the trade agreements between the farmer and the U.S company, and the U.S. business’ internal practices as well.

In the US, it is mostly foods that are certified, and they include: coffee, tea, chocolate, cocoa , herbs ands spices, honey, sugar, vanilla, molasses, avocados, bananas and other tropical fruits. There are also certified  flowers and clothing. Products that use certified ingredients also carry the certifier labels such as some beverages, body lotions, ice creams.  Look for the FairTradeUSA label to know that your products have been Fair Trade Certified.

Many products such as crafts, jewelry, and clothing are not yet Fair Trade Certified. The Fair Trade Federation (FTF) establishes fair trade criteria that member businesses commit to following. Look for businesses, such as Ten Thousand Villages, that are members. Most post the FTF logo in their windows or on their websites.

Other products on the market that are not Fair Trade Certified or sold through Fair Trade Federation members may also be “fairly traded” thanks to retailers, who purchase directly from artisans, pay fairly, and ensure that  fair trade standards are met. When you know your retailers well, you can trust this process.