Eco-Friendly and Ethical Chocolate — Fair Trade

A Fair Trade Certified LogoIn the spirit of the holidays or anytime, choose chocolate and other Fair Trade-certified products. Purchasing Fair Trade certified products empower shoppers to make a choice to promote equality in trade and safeguard the environment.

What is Fair Trade?

Although there is no “official” definition of fair trade, the general purpose is universal. Fair Trade is a global trade model to help small farmers, co-ops, and other producers in developing countries obtain a fair price for their products and enable them to build sustainable businesses.

Traders and purchasers pay above market price for products like cacao beans used to make chocolate. The extra money is intended to help farmers practice environmentally sound production methods, and make improvements in their communities by building schools, hospitals, and infrastructure.

Fair Trade products include coffee, chocolate, sugar, bananas, avocados, honey, nuts, wine, rice, and cotton products to name a few.

Fair Trade Organizations

Fair Trade organizations span the globe. Some are international, others regional or for a specific country. They set and enforce standards, advocate for Fair Trade, influence political policy, educate, train, and provide certification services.

Fairtrade International (FLO) Certification MarkFairtrade International (FLO) is a non-profit organization that develops and coordinates Fairtrade standards, supports producers, and promotes trade justice on an international scale. The FAIRTRADE Mark is owned by FLO.

FLO-CERT is an independent for profit organization that provides inspection and certification services to ensure producers and traders adhere to FLO Fairtrade standards.

World Fair Trade Organization LogoWorld Fair Trade Organization (WFTO) is a membership organization supporting and advocating Fair Trade. Organizations that follow WFTO’s 10 Principles of Fair Trade may utilize the logo (which is not a production mark).

WFTO ASIA is a regional chapter of World Fair Trade Organization focused on improving the lives of disadvantaged communities in Asia via Fair Trade.

Fair Trade USA LogoFair Trade USA is a nonprofit third-party certifier of Fair Trade products in the United States which recently established new Fair Trade standards under an initiative called Fair Trade for All.

Fair Trade Principles and Standards

Each Fair Trade organization sets its own principles and standards, although there are many similarities across organizations. Producer standards cover small farmers, co-ops, hired labor, and contract production. Other standards cover companies that trade and purchase products. Some requirements are progressive with a minimal level of compliance required the first year and increasing requirements each year thereafter. Third-party organizations conduct audits and certify that producers and traders are complying with Fair Trade standards.

Producer Standards

People & Community
  • Comply with International Labor Organization (ILO) labor standards.
  • Pay workers a fair wage in a timely manner.
  • Provide safe working conditions and training in the safe use of equipment and hazardous materials.
  • Prohibit discrimination, corporeal punishment, harassment, and forced labor.
  • Comply with child labor protection standards which determine at which age and under which conditions children may work.
  • Protect worker freedom of association and collective bargaining.
  • Invest in and document community improvement projects.
  • Protect and use water in a sustainable manner.
  • Promote agricultural diversification, control erosion, and forbid slash and burn.
  • Use integrated pest management to reduce the use of pesticides.
  • Manage waste by reducing, reusing, recycling, and handling hazardous waste in a safe and environmentally responsible manner.
  • Do not use Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs).
  • Reduce energy use via energy efficiency measures, adequate equipment maintenance, and renewable energy sources.
  • Comply with organic production standards and requirements (optional and earns an additional price premium)

Trader and Purchaser Standards

  • Act in a transparent and accountable manner with all stakeholders.
  • Comply with traceability and documentation requirements.
  • Buy products from producers who meet Fair Trade standards and requirements.
  • Pay a fair price to the producer which includes the cost of sustainable production and community development.
  • Provide pre-financing when needed.
  • Enter into contracts to develop long-term partnerships.

The next time you are shopping for chocolate, check out the Fair Trade options.


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Author: Linda Poppenheimer

Linda researches and writes about environmental topics to share information and to spark conversation. Her mission is to live more lightly on Earth and to persuade everyone else to do the same.

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