Developing international monitoring and labelling coalitions

The Fairtrade Labelling Organizations International (FLO) is developing international monitoring and labelling coalitions through an umbrella organization for the Fair Trade movement, in order to set criteria and standards for labeling and certification. This includes price minimums, pre-paid requirements and other guidelines. In addition, it manages a registry of producers committed to Fair Trade principles that includes small farmers and cooperatives that sell products directly to manufacturers and distributors. The FLO manages the criteria for approval and coordinates monitoring activities.

Through Fair Trade product-labeling initiatives it developed a set criteria that help determine whether a product can be certified and carry the Fair Trade seal. The registry of producers committed to Fair Trade principles include small farmers and cooperatives selling the following products: coffee, tea, cocoa, honey, sugar, orange juice, and bananas.

The standards that must be met to receive Fair Trade status include:

  • paying farming families a fair price for their harvest that provides them decent living wages
  • helping small farmers gain access to needed loans for working capital
  • establishing direct, long-term trading relationships between buyers and farmers
  • offering a price that covers the cost of production
  • placing importance on social premium for development purposes
  • offering partial payment in advance to avoid small producer organizations falling into debt
  • maximizing benefits to farmers by trading according to established Fair Trade standards

Fair Trade brings the benefits of trade into the hands of needy communities. It creates direct trade links to farmers and their cooperatives by bypassing middlemen and paying farmers a fair price to ensure decent living wages. Fair Trade also promotes sustainable farming practices by providing farmers access to affordable credit while giving consumers access to high-quality, Fair Trade products through mainstream retailers.

Fair Trade has made a tremendous impact not only on the farmers and their families but on the food industry as well. Sales of products carrying the Fair Trade mark have grown by almost 40% since the late 1980s. These products are now a permanent fixture in almost every competitive worldwide market and it has become common for supermarkets to have Fair Trade tasting. Now that more people are becoming aware of Fair Trade products, many say that they would pay more for these products, if they could be sure that farmers and workers received a fair return.

Summary updated from original (August 1, 2001) on April 30, 2011 - FLO currently has 24 members around the world that produce or promote products that carry the FAIRTRADE Certification Mark. These members developed the Fairtrade labelling model and are responsible for decision making within FLO. The members include 19 Labelling Initiatives, three Producer Networks and two Associate Members.


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