What the Heck Does Fair Trade Certified Mean?

What’s the story behind “Fair Trade Certified” labels? What exactly does it mean? With the myriad labels you encounter at stores everyday, it’s hard to know which ones mean something. Here’s what you can expect from this one.

| June/July 2008

Fair Trade Certified

Look for the Fair Trade Certified label on goods such as tea, cocoa, coffee and more.

Photo courtesy Fair Trade USA

You see it on labels for coffee, chocolate, flowers and more, but what does it really mean? Fair Trade is a designation developed to help consumers support products that come from farms that have been certified to provide fair wages and safe working conditions (forced child labor is prohibited). In addition, producers on certified farms are paid a premium to apply to projects such as healthcare, women’s leadership initiatives and micro-finance programs, as voted on by the farmers and workers themselves.

Fair Trade Certified also ensures that farmers obey internationally monitored environmental standards, while empowering farmers and farm workers with financial incentives and resources for organic conversion, reforestation, water conservation and environmental education.

Goods that bear the Fair Trade Certified label carry an independent, third-party-verified guarantee that the farmer received a fair price for the crop, and is empowered to compete in the global marketplace through direct, long-term contracts with international buyers. This market access lifts farming families from poverty through trade — not aid — which keeps food on the table, children in school and families on their land. 

Currently you can only find the Fair Trade Certified label on agricultural products, including coffee, tea and herbs, cocoa and chocolate, fresh fruit, rice, sugar, flowers, honey and vanilla. For products such as jewelry and furniture, consumers can look for and support companies that are committed to fair trade principles and practices by checking to see if the manufacturer is a member of the Fair Trade Federation.

5/29/2013 6:36:34 AM

fair trade means the legal trade of contents from all around the world for the reasonable price

bob dean
9/15/2012 1:09:15 AM

If you know this for a fact, you must be dead too.

bob dean
9/15/2012 1:07:46 AM

It appears to me that ' Fair Trade " in another way of saying unionized, and the aditional money goes into the pockets of Union leaders. After researching this, I would not buy anything that says "fair trade"

jason play
11/28/2011 6:00:44 PM

your moms fat

1/2/2011 12:27:08 PM

I support local farming. However, I also like chocolate, tea, and coffee. Are these products grown in Kentucky?

11/27/2008 7:59:23 AM

Fair Trade is not a new Idea, It is why the Civil War was really about. Fair trade was a UNION IDEA at the time and would have destroyed the southern cotton plantations, and bankrupted the south. The same as it is doing to Europe and the United States. Take a look at the unemployment rates in Europe and the good ole USA. The only ones benefitting is big corporations. This Economic melt down we are in is the result. Notice how all the governments in the world are rushing tax payer monies to the banks, but not to the manufacturing (Manufacturing is what supports a country and creates a middle class) sector nor the average person?

11/26/2008 7:42:33 PM

Had Americans been interested in true fair trade, we would be living in a very different world right now. No one is paying for anyone's healthcare anymore. We have choices every day when we wake up: to buy local, support American producers, unions and public school teachers if we want. Those choices come with a financial price. Most people have been too distracted by low prices and the act of consuming to notice. Maybe this economy, or Thanksgiving, or something will refocus some of us. A former family farmer.

j stone_2
11/26/2008 11:57:39 AM

What bothers me the most about so-called fair-trade is that the price for their goods is often HIGHER than locally produced same materials. That would would mean that the farmers being "fair-traded" are getting more than our workers are being paid, and that is just so unlikely. My guess is someone is making an awful lot of money off the gullibility and willingness of North Americans who will pay more so they can feel charitable. It seems like a major scam to me. I would rather pay local producers, farmers a fair trade, which is not happening. It is a deplorable scam, and this article does NOT address what fair trade is, only what it is purported to represent. Some objective, in depth reporting would be a nice change. There are other questions, too, but it is not my intention to write an entire article.

7/23/2008 12:01:04 PM

If you'll rad that HSW article, you'll see that fair trade is hardly a US-born idea. The Europeans are far more into it and have been for a longer period of time.

7/23/2008 11:58:24 AM

HowStuffWorks.com did a cool article about Fair Trade. Here's the link: http://money.howstuffworks.com/fair-trade.htm

tony deckard
7/23/2008 11:16:45 AM

Spider is right on. Ain't nobody insuring I get healthcare. Who's paying these "premiums" to the producers? The consumer. Who pays for these "long term contracts with international buyers?" The consumer. And who are the consumers? We are, since we (the US) are the market for their goods. Even if you or I don't buy the goods, we pay in the economic thrashing of lost employment, lost tax revenue and more we have had to endure due to so much of US based manufacturers moving their operations to other countries to pay a good wage that is often a small percentage of what it is here. Can't really blame them, though, can we... It is one of the many ways we (the US) are trying to force our values on the rest of the world.

6/28/2008 8:22:54 AM

If you beleive this load of bull about free trade, I have some IDEAL property in southern Fla to sell you, and are you interested in owning your very own BRIDGE?

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