Fair Trade is both a brand and a set of principles.
As a brand, a fair trade certification tells you that a product has been made and its producer compensated in ways that follow fair trade standards. As consumers, we rely on third-party organizations to evaluate how a product is brought to market and verify that farmers and workers were treated fairly. There are several certifying organizations that define what it means for a product to receive the Fair Trade brand. You can visit our Certifications page for information about the most recognized international and US based fair trade organizations.
The organizations that define and monitor fair trade practices have different focus and emphasis. However, some common principles include:
- Fair prices and credit terms
- Good working conditions
- Support for community development
- Non-discrimination policies
- Environmental sustainability
Prices and credit: Producers may be guaranteed a minimum price (or market price if higher) and/or offered a premium for organic products. In many cases, the definition of a fair price is defined by the producers themselves. Producers may also be offered credit on favorable terms including pre-paying a portion of the expected sales for their products.
Good working conditions: Forced child labor and slave labor are unacceptable, regardless of local cultural norms. In addition, all local and national labor laws must be followed.
Support for community development: An emphasis is placed on creating self-sufficiency in areas where communities have traditionally been marginalized. Producers are encouraged to invest their earnings in projects that benefit their local communities such as schools, hospitals, or scholarships.
Non-discrimination policies: Providers of fair trade products may not discriminate in hiring or pay based on gender, ethnicity, religion, union affiliation, political views, health status, or age.
Environmental sustainability: Producers are evaluated on their source of raw materials, energy consumption, use of agricultural chemicals, and treatment of waste.