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A fair trade certification system: FLO International

A certification system for products that comply with the labor, environmental and development standards established by FLO International.

The Fairtrade label (or Fair Trade Certified in the United States) for fairtrade products is promoted by the group of organizations Fairtrade Labelling Organizations International (FLO International).

The objective of Fairtrade certification is “better prices, decent working conditions, local sustainability, and fair terms of trade for farmers and workers in the developing world”, as defined by the Fairtrade Foundation UK.

The Fairtrade Mark is awarded to products after an independent audit of their producers has guaranteed the fulfillment of the required standards. Two independent agencies are responsible for awarding the label:

  • A committee is in charge of establishing standards for every product (FLO International).
  • A private organization with independent experts carries out the certification, FLO-CERT GmbH. It is a private company that certifies the products (commodities), according to the criteria established by FLO International. It verifies that the different actors of Fairtrade (mainly producers and merchants) comply with the standards of FLO International.

FLO unites 21 fairtrade certifying organizations from Europe, Japan, North America, Australia and New Zealand. According to Fairtrade UK, global sales of Fairtrade certified products reached 1.1 billion pounds in 2005 representing a 37% increase from 2004.

In October of 2006, 586 producer organizations in 58 countries benefit from the use of the Fairtrade certification, all complying with the certification requirements established by FLO-CERT (operating independently from any external interests, FLO-CERT bases its certification method on the standards set by ISO 65.

The first Fairtrade quality mark was used in Holland in 1988, an initiative that inspired several other “ethical labeling” alternatives. In 1997, the majority of them were part of the Fairtrade Labelling Organizations International (FLO).

  • More information on Fairtrade Certification, in Wikipedia.