Maybe you have already heard about Fair trade on television. Recently, Starbucks started an initiative to use only Fair trade coffee in their recipes. Do you know what Fair trade means? Let’s take a look:
Basically, Fair trade is a social system organized to ensure that producers, as well as artisans and businesses worldwide are treated fairly. That means fair pricing and practices. Fair trade also works to ensure environmental sustainability, good work conditions for employees, and the reinvestment of resources into local communities which also helps to alleviate poverty. Basically, Fair trade is there to make sure everything is being done correctly.
So, who regulates Fair trade and who determines if a product or business qualifies to be labeled? The Fair trade Labeling Organization (FLO) is an international organization that is responsible of labeling at an international level. Any product labeled by FLO is internationally recognized as a good product that meets all FLO’s regulations.
Located in Germany, the FLO actually does more than that: they are on charge of setting those international Fair trade standards. They organize support for manufacturers worldwide. They also develop global Fair trade strategies and promote what it is called “trade justice” internationally. The FLO brings global commerce to a whole new level of fairness.
In the United States, the institution that promotes the principles of fair-trade is the Fair Trade Federation (FTF). The FTF was established to embrace and promote North American organizations fully committed to fair trade. In addition, there is also a European Fair Trade Association (EFTA) whose goal is to promote fair trade and make fair trade importing more efficient and effective.
These institutions are part of a global Fair trade movement called Fair trade Action Network that was established in order to connect people who are interested in volunteering their time to help spread the concept of fair trade by participating in an internet community that shares ideas and experience gained in campaigns of fair trade. Fair trade is definitely a global initiative.
According to FLO, Fair trade certified sales amounted to approximately $4.08 billion worldwide in 2008, which means a significantly 22% year-to-year increase. At the end of that year, more than 700 producer organizations in 58 developing countries applied and qualified to be Fair trade certified.
Choosing Fair trade labeled products help people to ensure these products are treated fairly. The label guarantees that the producer of the product is interested in environmental sustainability and the people he employs works in good conditions. So, next time you visit your local store, pay attention to the packages with the “Fair trade” label. Those are recognized quality products worldwide.