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Insights Into Label Use, Governance, and Producer Benefits of “Fair for Life” and “Fair Trade Certified”

In December, FTRN produced the third of a 4-part webinar series on “Clarifying Fair Trade Certifications.” Webinar 103, about how “Fair for Life Social & Fairtrade Certified” (FFL) and “Fair Trade Certified” (FTC) manage label use, system governance, and benefits to producers, featured Deputy Manager IMO Social & Fairtrade Certification, Florentine Meinshausen, Fair Trade USA VP of Certification, Chisara Ehiemere, and Fair Trade USA Board Chair, Michael Conroy. You can download the 1.5-hr Webinar 103 recording, or register for upcoming webinars, at FTRN Webinars.

Below are some key points about the FFL system according to IMO, and about the FTC system according to FTUSA, from the webinar:

Label Use


2 labels are used: unqualified “Fair for Life Social and Fair Trade Certified” label, and “Made with FFL Certified ingredient ” label

Label use requirements are consistent across all consumer countries.

Products must be kept physically separate and traceable from producers to final vendor.

Brandholder labelling the final product must undergo Fair for Life certification, including confirmation of fair employment conditions.

For agricultural products:

To use unqualified label, a mono-ingredient product must be 100% Fair Trade; for multi-ingredient product, at least 80% of all ingredients must be Fair Trade, or 50% plus the intent to reach 80% within 3 years if ingredients are not yet available as Fair Trade.

To use “made with” label, at least 20% of all ingredients must be Fair Trade. If cocoa were Fair Trade, label would say “Chocolate made with Fair Trade cocoa”

For cosmetic or body care products:

To use unqualified label, at least 50% of all ingredients (excl. water) must be non-aqueaous, non-fruit juice Fair Trade ingredients.

To use “made with” label, at least 15% of all ingredients (excl. water) must be Fair Trade.


2 labels are used: unqualified “Fair Trade Certified”, and composite label.

To use unqualified label, 100% of ingredients must be Fair Trade.



Privately owned by nonprofit Bio-Foundation of Switzerland

Looking to start a Fair for Life governing board in 2011

Does do limited formals stakeholder consultation as well as informal consultation with stakeholders.

Is transparent by publishing all criteria, control points and guidance for compliance, so publishes more than just standards.

Also publishes all handler and producer profiles of performance evaluations, and scores in categories.

Also publishes how the premium is used.

Individual producers in a producer group are not expected to understand full standards, just simple internal standards written by the producer group (e.g. the manager of the producer group is expected to understand the full standards).

Applying labor standards to their own casual workers is not easily accepted by many small- or medium- scale producers.

Only IMO can certify IMO standards, but that could change in the future.


2800 licensed partners (companies), 830 producer groups, 19 labelling initiatives (plus 3 associate or seeking associate initiatives in Brazil, Mexico, South Africa), 3 producer networks (Africa, Asia, Latin America), involving 1.5 million producer families

FLO International, or FLO ev, sets standards, offers business support for producers, and helps producers seize market opportunities.

System is jointly owned by producer networks and labeling initiatives, unlike other certification systems claiming to identify Fair Trade.

Board consists of producer networks (4 seats), labeling initiatives, traders, and independent experts.

FLO cert is only ISO65 accredited social certification body.

FTUSA is in the process of separating its certification operations from its other operations to avoid conflicts of interest.

Benefits for Producers


Producers benefit from a higher farmgate price, social and environmental community projects that can be funded by a Fair Trade premium, and fair contracts and good working conditions.

Premium can go to improving producer business operations if operations are a coop, but not if a private company contracts with workers or individual producers.

IMO does not do training or project development, as this is organized directly by the certified organizations (often in combination with Fair Trade buyers).

IMO does not market its brand, and doesn’t charge licensing fees.


Producers are guaranteed Fair Trade premium for community development used for new homes, schools, and clinics.

FTC is only social certification in which producers are guaranteed a minimum international floor price to promote stability.

Producers gain empowerment and independence, in part through joint ownership and management of FLO.

Provide agricultural and business capacity training to producers.

More at Webinar 103 recording.


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