How do You Know if it’s Fair Trade?
There are specific U.S. based and international organizations which screen fair trade businesses and/or certify products as “fair trade”. They ensure that items sold under various fair trade labels meet international standards and provide assurance to consumers that the product they are buying helps – and does not harm – people and the environment.
Handicrafts are described immediately below.
For food, sports balls, flowers, etc. click here.
Most Judaica products, like handicrafts, clothing, and jewelry are not certified as “fair trade items”. Rather, the producer group who makes the product and/or the importer or wholesaler who sells the product applies for membership to either the Fair Trade Federation (U.S.) or the World Fair Trade Organization. Following a rigorous screening process, if they are found to adhere to the strict fair trade guidelines, they are accepted as a fair trade member. Only products which include the logo of the Fair Trade Federation or the World Fair Trade Organization can be considered truly “fair trade”.
The Fair Trade Federation (FTF) is an association of fair trade wholesalers, retailers, and producers whose members are fully committed to providing fair wages and good employment opportunities to economically disadvantaged artisans and farmers worldwide. FTF members link low-income producers with consumer markets and educate consumers about the importance of purchasing fairly traded products which support living wages and safe and healthy conditions for workers in the developing world. FTF provides resources and networking opportunities for its members and acts as a clearinghouse for information on fair trade.
The World Fair Trade Organization (WFTO) is the global network of fair trade organizations. Over 350 fair trade organizations in 70 countries are WFTO members. Approximately 65% of members are based in Asia, the Middle East, Africa and South America, with the rest in North America, the Pacific Rim and Europe. WFTO members represent the fair trade chain from production to sale. Members include producer co-operatives and associations, export marketing companies, importers, retailers, national and regional fair trade networks and financial institutions, dedicated to fair trade principles. The WFTO logo is used to brand Fair Trade Organizations that are committed to 100% Fair Trade. The logo means that standards are being implemented regarding working conditions, wages, child labor, and the environment, and are verified by self-assessment, mutual reviews and external verification.
Food Products and More
The fair trade movement is expanding, and as it does, more and more fair trade certified products are becoming available. Here is the current list of fair trade product categories.
- Food items
- Coffee, tea and cocoa
- Dried fruits & vegetables
- Fresh fruit and vegetables
- Fruit juices
- Honey and sugar
- Olives & olive oil
- Quinoa, soy and pulses
- Spices & herbs
- Fresh flowers and plants
- Sports balls
Who Certifies these products?
Fairtrade America, a new nonprofit organization, is now the certifying body in the United States for Fairtrade Labelling Organizations International (FLO). FLO is an umbrella organization that unites 20 labeling initiatives in 21 countries and producer networks representing fair trade certified producer organizations in Central and South America, Africa and Asia. FLO-I is now responsible for setting international fair trade standards for certifying production, trade and labeling of a certain number of products, (not handcrafts). The label that these products carry is called the Fairtrade Label and usually looks like the logo on the right (although the label can vary from country to country). The consumer benefits from these standards because they:
- benefit small farmers and workers,
- promote sustainable production,
- guarantee a fair price and an extra fair trade premium payment
Fair Trade USA (formerly known as Transfair USA), is a third-party certifier of fair trade products in the United States. It works with importers and manufacturers in this country to document business practices, providing consumers with a guarantee that those products were made according to international fair trade criteria. Fair Trade USA withdrew its membership from Fairtrade Labeling Organizations International (FLO), in September 2011, deciding to extend its certification to plantations and factories.. Fair Trade USA receives supporting documentation—contracts, bills of loading, and invoices—from licensed importers, demonstrating that fair trade criteria were met and that farmers received the Fair Trade price. The process is detailed and thorough. Every purchase is tracked with a unique identification number to ensure accuracy.
“Fair for Life” is a brand neutral third party certification program run by the Institute for Marketecology (IMO) for fair trade in agricultural, manufacturing and trading operations. The aim of the Fair for Life Social & FairTrade Programme is to ensure fair and positive relations between producers and their cooperatives or contracting companies, between workers and their employer, between seller and buyers on the world market while at the same time ensuring performance of standards.
Fair for Life Social & Fair Trade Certification guarantees that human rights are guaranteed at every stage of production, that workers enjoy good and fair working conditions, that smallholder farmers receive a fair share, and that strict environmental standards are followed. Fair trade improves the livelihood of thousands of smallholder farmers and workers by providing the means for social community projects and empowerment of people. Their criteria are based on standards set by FLO.