What is Fairtrade ?
Fairtrade is a trading partnership which seeks greater equality across international trade by offering improved trading conditions to farmers and workers in the developing world.
How is Fairtrade doing?
According to the Fairtrade Foundation sales of Fairtrade food and drink in the UK for the calendar year 2012 reached £1.57 billion, an increase of 19% year-on-year. This makes the UK the largest market in the world for Fairtrade food and drink. Cocoa , sugar and bananas have seen signifiicant growth of 21%, 35% and 15% compared to sales in 2011.There are currently over 4,500 retail and catering products carrying the Fairtrade mark. UK awareness of the Fairtrade mark has risen to 78% of UK consumers. In 2012 consumers in the UK drank 2 billion cups of Fairtrade coffee, ate 1.3 billion Fairtrade bananas and drank 3.2 billion cups of Fairtrade tea. Fairtrade now accounts for 10% of all tea sold in the UK, just over 27% rosat and ground ciffee and 12% of chocolate confectionery. 70% of all hot chocolate sold in the UK is Fairtrade certified.
What are the regulations covering the supply of Fairtrade products ?
Unlike organic production there is no statutory government or EU legislation concerning the production of Fairtrade food and drink. Instead the Fairtrade Labelling Organisation International (FLO) acts as an umbrella organisation for Fairtrade labelled products. FLO is responsible for
- Setting international Fairtrade producer standards
- Agreeing terms of trade for Fairtrade products
- Monitoring the trade in primary and part-processed products to ensure compliance
- Owning the registered international Fairtrade symbol
What is the Fairtrade Foundation ?
In the UK the FLO is represented by the Fairtrade Foundation (FTF) which
- Licenses the FLO Fairtrade logo for use on specific products
- Monitors the supply chain of Fairtrade certified products
- Helps companies develop new Fairtrade products
- Raises consumer awareness about Fairtrade
What are the stages to becoming a Fairtrade supplier ?
- The process of becoming a UK Fairtrade Licensee is controlled by the FTF. New applicants must fill out an Application Form and sign a Licence Agreement prior to marketing Fairtrade products.
- The Licensee is responsible for ensuring that every product they market complies with Fairtrade standards.
- The Licensee is generally the last supplier in the supply chain – in the case of proprietary brands this will usually be the brand owner whilst for private label. products the licence may be held by the brand owner or their immediate supplier.
- Licensees pay a fee for the use of the Fairtrade symbol based on the net wholesale value of their sales in the preceding quarter. This fee is currently 2% for all products.
- Once a Licensee has started supplying Fairtrade-labelled products they provide quarterly reports to the FTF to verify the supply chain and trading terms for labelled products.
- These reports are audited annually by a physical inspection.
What is the range of Fairtrade food and drink currently available ?
- FLO has currently developed Fairtrade standards which include the following types of food and drink: coffee, tea, herbal tea, chocolate, confectionery, cocoa, sugar, bananas, apples, pears, grapes, plums, lemons, oranges, mandarins, satsumas, clementines, lychees, avocados, pineapples, mangoes, grapefruit, fruit juices, smoothies, quinoa, peppers, green beans, coconuts, dried fruit, rooibos tea, green tea, biscuits, cakes & snacks, honey, muesli, cereal bars, jams & preserves, seeds, chutney & sauces, herbs & spices, nuts & nut oil, soya, olive oil, wine, beer, rum, rice, yoghurt, ice-cream and babyfood,
- Non-food products include: flowers, sports balls, sugar body scrub and cotton products including clothing, homewear, cloth toys and cotton wool.
What are the guidelines for Fairtrade products ?
- For all Fairtrade-labelled composite (multi-ingredient) products, every ingredient that is covered by Fairtrade standards must be sourced under Fairtrade conditions in a supply chain originating from certified producers and traded only through registered traders
- If the product contains more than 50% Fairtrade-certified content then it is automatically eligible for Fairtrade labelling.
- If the product contains less than 20% Fairtrade-certified content then it is not eligible for Fairtrade labelling.
- A product may qualify for the Fairtrade logo if it contains a single Fairtrade-certified ingredient and this ingredient represents more than 20% of the product’s dry weight.
- All composite products that carry the Fairtrade logo must indicate the percentage of Fairtrade ingredients on the product label.
What is the cross-over between Fairtrade and organic ?
- Some products on sale in the UK carry both organic and Fairtrade logos, indicating dual-certification. The two systems are complementary but there are some key differences.
- Organic standards seek to produce high quality food with minimum environmental impact, but they do not guarantee prices to producers or stipulate any particular social forms of production.
- Fairtrade standards have a social goal, stipulating minimum prices paid to producers and ensuring that producers in developing countries can gain more control over their lives. Whilst environmental standards are important in Fairtrade, producers who are unable to meet organic standards are not excluded.
There is currently great interest in the UK on how organic and Fairtrade standards could come together, as shown by the development of Soil Association Ethically Traded Organic Standards.