Fairtrade is a certification system for products that comply with environmental, labor and development standards established by FLO International.
The identifying label Fairtrade (or Fair Trade Certified for the United States) for fair trade products is promoted by the group of organizations Fairtrade Labelling Organizations International (FLO International).
The objective of the Fairtrade certification is to help “build economic independence and empowerment for Fairtrade Certified small farmer organizations and their members, bringing them economic stability and a higher standard of living” (FLO).
To qualify for the Fairtrade label, producers are audited independently to ensure the fulfillment of the required standards.
Two independent agencies oversee the application of the seal:
- A committee in charge of establishing the standards of each 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 Fairtrade actors (mainly producers and merchants) comply with the standards of FLO International.
FLO encompasses 21 fair trade organizations from Europe, Japan, North America, Australia and New Zealand.
According to the FLO, in 2005, Fairtrade sales were approximately €1.1 billion worldwide, a 37% increase from 2004. In October 2006, 508 producer organizations in 58 developing countries were Fairtrade certified, all complying with the certification requirements established by FLO-CERT (operating independently and free of external interests, FLO-CERT bases its method of certification on the ISO 65 standards).
The first Fairtrade label was used in Holland in 1988, an initiative that encouraged the rise of several “fair labeling” alternatives. In 1997, the majority of them joined together to form the umbrella group the Fairtrade Labelling Organizations International (FLO).
- More information on Fairtrade Certification, in Wikipedia.