What Is Fairtrade?

The Impact Of Our Work

Fairtrade certification makes a significant difference to the lives of farmers and workers, their families, and their wider communities.

The difference that Fairtrade makes

Our approach to maximize impact for producers includes rigorous standards for certification, direct and indirect support to organizations, strong action on key issues, and advocating for trade policy change in the North. Fairtrade is about far more than just fair prices – we create sustainable impact in three interconnected areas: economic, social, and environmental.

Economic impact

  • Through the Minimum Price for most commodities, Fairtrade helps certified farmers become more income-secure and less vulnerable to market uncertainty.
  • In many key commodity sectors, Fairtrade certification enables farmers to negotiate a higher price for their product than the conventional market price.
  • Additional income through the Fairtrade Premium supports improvements to product quality and productivity, strong cooperatives, investment in collective assets, and local infrastructure.
  • Long-term business contracts with exporters and traders enable producers to grow their businesses and plan for the future.
Child Protection Program Organization, GUAYA'B Comunidad Xayomlaj, Guatemala

Social impact

  • Fairtrade empowers farmers by helping them organize into cooperatives. This improves their negotiating position within the supply chain. Farmers and workers who choose to participate in Fairtrade feel a real sense of control over their lives with greater power and voice.
  • Workers on larger farms are protected by the Fairtrade Standards, which ensure better working conditions, health and safety measures, and the right to unionize.
  • The Standards also promote gender equality, and prohibit child and forced labour.
  • The Fairtrade Premium is often invested in projects which benefit entire communities, such as health facilities, schools, housing, and clean water.

Environmental impact

  • The Fairtrade Standards encourage efficient management of natural resources like soil and water, and restrict the use of harmful chemicals.
  • Fairtrade favours organic farming, which gives farmers financial benefits, and access to new markets.
  • With climate change increasingly impacting farmers, Fairtrade provides access to financing, support and expertise to help them adapt. We also have a Fairtrade Carbon Credits program which enable producers to make their contribution to climate change mitigation while adapting to new realities.

Key issues

Fairtrade differs from other certification schemes by addressing critically important issues through our Standards, policies, and global advocacy work for better trade.

Lucia Mansaray and her son, Beshey. Lucia is a member of Fairtrade cocoa co-operative called Ngoleagorbu in Sierra Leone. Lucia is a cocoa farmer and lives in a community on the edge of the Gola rainforest, sharing her forest home with chimpanzees, hundreds of rare bird species and the elusive pygmy hippo, of which only 3,000 remain. In 2019, Lucia and hundreds of other cocoa farmers here came together through Fairtrade to form the Ngoleagorbu Union of Cocoa farmers, where passions for social and environmental justice run deep. Lucia is passionate and hopeful about what the future holds for her family and Ngoleagorbu, and her drive for change has led her to be chairperson of the Fairtrade Premium Committee.

Human Rights

Our Standards meet or exceed international norms for income and labour conditions, and our independent auditing process verifies that producers are in compliance.

Coop Thien Hoang Organic Tea Club, tea producers

Decent Livelihoods

Income for agricultural producers is often unsustainable. Our financial measures make a big difference, but we’re also developing living wage benchmarks to take this further.

Visited an Organic / Fairtrade farm: ASOBANARCOOP: Finca Feliciana, visit a school being constructed by funding from Premium: BANAFRUCOOP, visited a music/dance school funded by premium from COOMULBANANO

Child Labour

Around 98 million children still work on farms. Our youth-inclusive approach fights the root causes, and lets the children of Fairtrade farmers learn and play, as kids should.

Satemwa Tea Malawi, 2017

Forced Labour

Millions of vulnerable people are forced to work against their will. Producer organizations are asked to implement specific procedures prohibiting modern slavery.

Yadira Orozco, a Colombian banana farmer at Asobanar Cooperative

Gender Equality

Women grow at least half the world’s food, but face severe challenges. We prohibit discrimination and exploitative behaviour, and help women achieve positions of leadership.

Annual General Assembly

Workers’ Rights

Fairtrade works for workers on large farms by following conventions of the ILO for our requirements on income, health and safety, contracts, and social security.

How we measure impact

The Fairtrade system has an ongoing program of Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning (MEL). This is used to improve our understanding of how being part of Fairtrade is benefiting producer organizations and their members, and to generate recommendations and analysis in support of increased effectiveness and impact. This information is used to improve the Fairtrade Standards, producer support, certification, and other Fairtrade activities, in order to deliver greater positive impacts for participating farmers and workers and their organizations.

Fairtrade is an evolving system committed to learning how our approach can improve to make a bigger difference for farmer and worker communities in the Global South. Although a lot has been achieved, our vision is ambitious and there is always more that Fairtrade can and should do to extend its impact to more vulnerable regions and difficult-to-reach groups.

Our Theory of Change captures the range of things Fairtrade does as a system and relates these logically to desired immediate, mid-term and long-term changes.

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