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Why do some products claim to be fair trade but do not carry the FAIRTRADE Mark?

Some organisations, also called Alternative Trading Organisations (ATOs), are purely dedicated to trading fairly and have been doing so for many years before Fairtrade certification was established. You can find these organisations listed at WFTO or BAFTS. It can take a long time to agree new international Fairtrade standards, and for many of the products these organisations sell, there may not yet be standards available for their products.   However some other companies make their own ‘fair trade’ claims without having the independent scrutiny of the FAIRTRADE Mark, or being part of a recognised network such as WFTO. You need to ask what these claims are based upon. If you want to be sure that farmers and workers are receiving the better deal offered by Fairtrade, always look for the FAIRTRADE Mark.

Who is responsible for setting Fairtrade standards?

All Fairtrade standards, including minimum prices and premiums are set by the Standards Unit at Fairtrade International and the minimum prices and premiums for each product are included in the product-specific standards available on their website. The process for agreeing international Fairtrade standards follows the ISEAL Code of Good Practice for Social and Environmental Labelling, where stakeholders (including producers, traders, NGOs) participate in the research and consultation process and final decision making.

Why are some Fairtrade prices set worldwide and others set for countries or regions?

There are worldwide prices for some products such as nuts, cocoa and juices, but most products have country-specific or regional prices. This is because production costs vary greatly around the world and prices for new products and origins have been set on a case-by-case basis. As the demand for new prices grows, the Fairtrade International Standards Unit is increasingly using regional rather than country-specific prices. This means new prices cover as many farmers/workers as possible and avoid the need for new research into pricing for the same product every time a new producer group is identified in a new country. If production costs vary significantly in a region a consensus is reached between the farmers/workers and other stakeholders, in order to set a price that is acceptable for the whole region.

Why arent handicrafts Fairtrade certified?

Fairtrade certification and pricing were designed for commodity products. It is hard to adapt the Fairtrade model of standardised minimum pricing to crafts and other products made by small-scale artisans, which are unique, made of varied materials and have highly varied production processes and costs. However, Fairtrade International is working with WFTO to explore whether we could certify these products in the future.

Can buying Fairtrade products help to tackle climate change?

Farmers/workers must meet environmental standards as part of certification. Producers are required to work to protect the natural environment and make environmental protection a part of farm management. They are also encouraged to minimise the use of energy, especially from non-renewable sources. By choosing Fairtrade, shoppers in the UK are ensuring that farmers and workers receive a Fairtrade premium to invest in economic, social and environmental products of their own choice. It means they can implement a range of environmental protection programmes which contribute to the range of solutions needed to address climate change and ultimately benefit us all.  To give two examples, tea workers in India have invested some of their Fairtrade Premium into replacing the traditional wood-burning heating with a solar-panelled system. Coffee farmers in Costa Rica have used the premium to replant trees to prevent soil erosion and have invested in environmentally friendly ovens, fuelled by recycled coffee hulls and the dried shells of macadamia nuts. This means that they no longer need to cut forest trees and so can preserve the rainforest and the oxygen they produce. By choosing Fairtrade products, you can help farmers and workers preserve their own environment and allow them to have a positive social benefit in their community. Climate change hits the poorest in developing countries hardest. This includes people whose livelihoods depend on agriculture. Through the Fairtrade Premium farmers and workers have a little extra to use when harvests fail, or if they need to change to growing a different crop if the climate becomes unsuitable for the way they currently farm.   You can read more about Fairtrade and climate change in our Why the climate revolution must be a fair revolution here.

Can I put the FAIRTRADE Mark on my website or promotional materials?

If your company or organisation is selling or expressly promoting Fairtrade certified products you can put the FAIRTRADE Mark on your website and promotional materials in accordance with our guidelines in our Promotional Materials Manual. Find out more about using the FAIRTRADE Mark here.

Can someone come and give a talk to my group?

We receive many requests every day and are unfortunately unable to accept every invitation. If you are a school or small local group, you may wish to check if there is a Fairtrade Town campaign in your area, and contact the local representative. Meanwhile, Traidcraft has a nationwide network of speakers. If you are a school, visit our Fairtrade Schools website for details of organisations and resource people you can contact. If you are a group working towards Fairtrade Town status, it may be possible for our Fairtrade Towns advisor, Bruce Crowther, to visit you or speak at your campaign launch. If you are holding a major event and wish to invite a Fairtrade Foundation speaker, please email us at mail@fairtrade.org.uk.

Are Fairtrade products fully traceable?

For most Fairtrade products including bananas, fresh fruit, coffee, flowers, nuts, rice, spices and others, the Fairtrade system requires these products to be physically traceable. This means they must be labelled and kept separate at every stage of their journey from the farm to the shop shelves. However, when we attempted to introduce similar rules for products such as cocoa, sugar, tea and juice, we discovered that there is very little physical traceability in the way these sectors work. For example, the chocolate industry is currently not always able to keep Fairtrade cocoa and non-Fairtrade cocoa separate at every stage of production from the cocoa field to the final bar. Cocoa beans are delivered in bulk by farmers and routinely mixed during shipping and in the manufacturing process. Rather than ruling out these sectors and losing Fairtrade sales opportunities for thousands of small farmers, Fairtrade has set up a system to ensure that manufacturers that want to use the FAIRTRADE Mark must buy the precise amount of produce they need from Fairtrade farmers that will be used in their final product. This system is known as ‘mass balance’.  So, if a chocolate bar uses 500 tonnes of cocoa, then the manufacturer must purchase 500 tonnes of cocoa on Fairtrade terms, including the payment of an additional $200 Fairtrade Premium per tonne. This means that even if the beans are later mixed with non-Fairtrade beans - as often happens - Fairtrade cocoa farmers still get 100 per cent of the benefits, and the better deal that the FAIRTRADE Mark stands for.  Our mission is to support farmers and workers in the developing world to increase their share in global trade. Fairtrade’s stringent inspection and audit system is in place to ensure the amount of Fairtrade product manufactured exactly matches the amount of Fairtrade product purchased.

What product categories does Fairtrade certify?

Fairtrade standards exist for the following products: Food products: - Bananas - Cocoa - Coffee - Dried Fruit - Fresh Fruit & Fresh Vegetables - Honey - Juices - Nuts/Oil Seeds/Oil - Quinoa - Rice - Spices - Sugar - Tea - Wine Non-food products: - Beauty products - Cotton - Cut Flowers - Ornamental Plants - Sports Balls - Gold - Platinum - Silver

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