ftrn.org is an information hub designed to grow the fair trade movement. together, we can create a market that values the people who make the food we eat and the goods we use.

Key Issues in Fair Trade

TIP: If a story moves you, use the comment feature for that story to write a response. Dialogue is a key to growing the movement!

Any social movement and international commerce system has its controversies, challenges, and key issues. This section, in part, attempts to foster thoughtful discussion and debate on complex, multi-faceted issues within Fair Trade.

FWP Analysis Compares Fair Trade & Ecosocial Certifications on How Committed Brands Are Distinguished

-

Fair World Project (FWP) has published some analysis on how well different Fair Trade and eco-social seals distinguish committed brands (that is brands that are committed to building a just economy in all policies and practices) from conventional brands (that is brands that offer some certified products or ingredients but in other supply chains and practices show a lack of commitment to Fair Trade principles). The analysis currently compares 7 certifications across 8 questions about a brand’s practices throughout all its supply chains, company history, minimum percentage requirements for multi-ingredient products, focus on small producers, and more.

More at FWP post

Fairtrade International Launches Commodity Sourcing Program

-

Fairtrade International recently announced the first commitments to its new commodity sourcing model. Rather than focusing on all the ingredients for a multi-ingredient final product, Fairtrade Sourcing Programs means companies can now make big commitments to use Fairtrade cocoa, sugar or cotton across product ranges or even their whole business. Already at launch nine companies have signed on to increase their Fairtrade purchases starting with initial 2014 volumes set to deliver $1.2m in additional Fairtrade Premium to cocoa farmers by the end of this year.

The associated label, shown at left for cocoa ingredients, looks somewhat different than the FAIRTRADE product label,  under which all commercially available ingredients in a multi-ingredient final product that could be FAIRTRADE must be FAIRTRADE. The U.S. market, administered by Fairtrade America, is not presently allowing use of the label for Fairtrade Sourcing Programs.

Mars and major German, Swiss and Japanese retailers and brands were the first to make serious commitments to cocoa farmers under Fairtrade’s new commodity sourcing model. Swiss company Switcher was also announced recently as the first to pioneer the new approach in cotton.

The early commitments alone will increase Fairtrade cocoa sales sixfold in Germany in 2014 and deliver 14% growth to Fairtrade cocoa farmers worldwide, by close to 6000 metric tonnes (MT). Many of these companies have set multi-year growth targets so Fairtrade cocoa farmers will benefit from year-on-year increases to overall volumes of cocoa sales.

More at Fairtrade International post

FWP Campaign Asks Brands Participating in Fair Trade to Support Fair Trade Policies

-

Fair World Project, an advocacy program of Organic Consumers Association, is inviting Fair Trade supporters to ask Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, Starbucks, and Honest Tea to support fair trade policies in government. With current developments heading towards passage of international free trade deals such as Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) and Trans-Atlantic Free Trade Agreement (TAFTA), FWP believes the companies should ensure that their influence is used to demand fair and transparent trade policies that benefit farmers and workers.

More at FWP campaign

Fair for Life Announces Changes to Its Certification

-

“Fair for Life” Certification announced changes to part of its certification program after a revision process ended in December 2013. The changes apply to the certification’s Labelling & Control standards, and to its Handling Operations standards.

More at Fair for Life post

Fairtrade International Makes Major Changes to Strengthen Hired Worker Standards

-

Fairtrade International has overhauled its Fairtrade Standard for Hired Labor to strengthen the position of workers in Fairtrade certified plantations and estates producing tea, bananas and other fruit, cut flowers, herbs, vegetables and sports ball factories. The newly revised standard includes detailed requirements to guarantee workers’ right to freely organize and collectively bargain. Certified producer companies must not only declare this right publically to workers, but allow unions to meet with workers and offer to engage in a collective agreement process with worker representatives if there is none in place.

Fairtrade International is also introducing a new methodology to set living wage benchmarks and a clear process for plantations to progress towards a living wage. The new methodology has been developed and benchmarks have already been set in some areas. Fairtrade International is now in the process of calculating rural living wage benchmarks for each region with Fairtrade certified plantations.

More at Fairtrade International post

Canada Fair Trade Movement Strengthens Its Organization at Annual Conference

-

The Canadian Fair Trade Network (CFTN) continued its inspiring developments in organizing and collaborating across the country’s Fair Trade community. The 2014 CFTN National Conference brought over 100 people together for 3 days in January in Toronto. Attendees focused on: sharing business perspectives in fair trade; bringing together key advocates, business representatives, academics, students and certifiers from across the movement; conducting the CFTN Annual General Meeting and vision and strategy session; hosting a Fair Trade Expo with around 15 vendors; collaborating across Fair Trade Towns, Schools, and Campuses; and advocate skill building and community engagement.

FTRN strongly believes that the fragmented and under-resourced U.S. Fair Trade community would achieve a lot more if it were organized and collaborating like Canada’s movement.

More at CFTN Conference

Certification Comparison Tool Published by FWP

-

An online tool was recently published to compare some aspects of certification programs for Fair Trade and ecosocial labels in the U.S. and Canada markets. The tool, published by Fair World Project (FWP), a program of Organic Consumers Association, currently compares 6 certifications across 8 criteria. The tool presents both objective factors as well as FWP’s opinions on how well each label meets FWP’s expectations.

The tool focuses on certification policies related to multi-ingredient products, so doesn’t presently address scores of other criteria on how labels compare. The tool currently compares Fair Trade USA’s “Fair Trade Certified”, Fairtrade America’s FAIRTRADE, IMO’s “Fair for Life”, Ecocert, UTZ Certified, and Rainforest Alliance Certified, and is updated as of November 2013.

More at FWP online tool

First Fair Trade Shoe Factory Produces Footwear Available in N. America

-

The first-ever Fair Trade certification for a shoe factory was announced recently. A Canadian company, Oliberté, imports the shoes from a factory in Ethiopia that is certified by Fair Trade USA.

Oliberté projects sales in 2013 will be about $1.2 million and are expected to grow to $2 million next year. As a Fair Trade buyer, Oliberté will be required to start contributing 5% of its purchases to a community fund for employees at the factory. That could work out to about $2,500 in October alone, when Oliberté is scheduled to ship 2,300 pairs of shoes to retailers such as Town Shoes in Canada.

More at Toronto Star post

“Fair for Life” Certification Now Lists All Available Products on Website

-

Institute for Marketecology (IMO) “Fair for Life” certification program now publicly lists all its available certified products, and which organizations trade them. There are more than 500 certified products in food, body care and other categories.

Also on the website, visitors can still see the evaluation score in 5 main criteria for each trading organization. These evaluation results are the only publicly available ones from any certifiers in Fair Trade.

More at “Fair for Life” product list

Fair Trade Minimum Price for Coffee Again Benefiting Farmers

-

One of the key benefits of Fair Trade is to guarantee producers a minimum floor price when global commodity prices drop. In some years, when commodity prices are high, this benefit is more psychological rather than material. This year for coffee farmers, the benefit is again material and very important.

The small scale farmers that make up the majority of global coffee production remember all too well the calamity of 2001 when prices plummeted to 45 cents a pound, throwing hundreds of thousands of farmers and landless workers into poverty or destitution.

More recently, in May 2011, the price of Arabica coffee on the New York futures market hit a 34-year high of almost US$3.09 per pound. But, as if to justify its volatile reputation, the coffee price has plummeted in 2013 to less than US$1.10 per pound – nearly 65 percent off the 2011 high (see the latest market price here).

The price collapse this year is particularly unwelcome for farmers in Central America, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru where leaf rust, a fungal disease that destroys coffee trees also known as La Roya, has already wiped out up to 30-40 percent of the crop, according to the International Coffee Organization (ICO).

Fairtrade certified cooperatives can count on at least the Fairtrade Minimum Price of US$1.40 per pound for washed Arabica coffee sold on Fairtrade terms (30 cents more if organic), plus an extra 20 cents per pound Fairtrade Premium to invest as they see fit, 5 cents of which is dedicated to productivity and quality investments.

More at Fairtrade International post