Fair Trade USA

Based in Oakland, California, Fair Trade USA (FT USA) is a third-party certifier of fair trade products.  Product categories include linens and apparel, commodity foodstuffs (coffee, tea, chocolate, etc.), sports balls, wine and spirits.  In addition, FT USA has a catalog of Licensed Partners who sell certified products throughout the United States.

Prior to December, 2011, Fair Trade USA was a member organization of Fairtrade International but now operates independently.  While developing its own certification standard for products, FT USA states that it will always recognize the FLO-CERT certification of Fairtrade International.  FT USA does not certify handcrafts such as jewelry and artwork.  FT USA is actively promoting the sale of fair trade products through large retailers such as WalMart and McDonalds.  However, it is careful to make the distinction that it is certifying the products themselves and not the broader business practices of the retailers.

Principles

  • Democratic decision making (farm cooperatives or worker associations)
  • Farmers and workers decide how to use premiums earned from consumers
  • Training and capacity building (workplace safety, civil rights, market economics)
  • Contracts should promote long term and stable trading relationships
  • Predetermined premiums apply to each sale
  • Minimum prices for some commodities and focus on increasing worker wages
  • Prohibition on child labor and support for International Labor Conventions (ILO)
  • Use of environmentally sustainable techniques for pest control, agrochemical use, waste management, and energy consumption

Evaluation

  • Application and certification process managed by third-party, Scientific Certification Systems (SCS).
  • Initial application form
  • Onsite audit
    • Document review
    • Worker interviews
    • Direct observation
    • Audit report issued
    • Certification approved or denied based on audit report

Monitoring

  • Auditing performed by SCS
  • Re-certification occurs each three years
  • Annual surveillance audits are performed in years between re-certification

Source: Summary based on material published by Fair Trade USA.