What Fairtrade does

Fairtrade advocates for better working conditions and improved terms of trade for farmers and workers in developing countries.

It’s about supporting the development of thriving farming and worker communities to have more control over their futures, and protecting the environment in which they live and work.

And it’s your opportunity to connect with the people who grow the produce that we all depend on.

The Fairtrade MarkWhen consumers purchase products with the Fairtrade Mark, they are supporting farmers and workers as they work to improve their livelihoods and provide better support to their communities. The Fairtrade Mark shows you that the Fairtrade ingredients in the product have been produced by small-scale farmer organisations or plantations that meet internationally agreed Fairtrade social, economic and environmental standards.

The standards include protection of workers’ rights and the protection of children, the preservation of the environment, payment of the Fairtrade Minimum Price and an additional Fairtrade Premium to invest in initiatives to support local communities or business development.

Fairtrade benefits small-scale farmers and workers by facilitating links to international markets through the development of supply chains. Small-scale farmers and workers are amongst the most marginalized groups globally and through Fairtrade they can lift themselves out of poverty to maintain their successful livelihoods.

Some products, such as coffee, cocoa, and cotton, can only be certified by Fairtrade if they come from small-scale farmer organizations. By working through democratic organizations of small-scale farmers, Fairtrade offers rural communities the stability of income which enables them to plan for the future and invest in developing their organisation.

For some products such as bananas, and tea, Fairtrade can certify plantations (companies that employ large numbers of workers on large areas of land called estates). Standards for large-scale production differ from those for small-scale farmer organisations by focusing on the protection of workers’ basic rights; keeping them safe and healthy, allowing them freedom of association and collective bargaining, preventing discrimination and ensuring no bonded or illegal child labour is present. Fairtrade Standards also require employers to pay wages that progress towards living wage benchmarks. Advocating for fair working conditions and worker rights is integral to Fairtrade’s mission.

What makes Fairtrade different?

Fairtrade supports farmers and workers in gaining more from trade and through this they are empowered to control their lives. It is an alternative approach that is based on partnership; one between those who grow our food and those that consume it.

Fairtrade is 50 percent owned by producers

Fairtrade works with a range of stakeholders but our global system is 50 percent owned by producers representing farmer and worker organisations. With an equal voice, producers have a say in decision-making within our General Assembly and on Fairtrade International’s Board of Directors. Through the Board and its committees, they are involved in decisions on overall strategy, use of resources and setting prices, premiums and standards.

Fairtrade Minimum price

For most Fairtrade goods there is a Fairtrade minimum price which is set to cover the cost of sustainable production for that product in that region. If the market price for that product is higher that our minimum price, then producers should receive the market price. Payment of the minimum price is regularly audited and checked by FLO-Cert. This acts as a vital safety net for farmers and workers and protects them from fluctuations in the market prices of the products they grow for a living. This protection ensures they can have an assured and stable income and plan for their future. Fairtrade is the only certification scheme that offers this unique minimum price protection for farmers.

Fairtrade Premium

Over and above the Fairtrade price, the Fairtrade Premium is an additional sum of money, which goes into a communal fund for workers and farmers to use – as they see fit - to improve their social, economic and environmental conditions.

Producers determine what is most important to them; whether this is education or healthcare for their children, improving their businesses or building vital infrastructure such as roads and bridges for their community.