Why Fair Trade is Unique
The huge success of Fair Trade has encouraged other consumer labels and certification systems to consider the welfare of the people behind the products. What do these other labels mean and how do they compare to one expression of Fair Trade - the products labelled with the single word - Fairtrade?
Through its standards, Fairtrade Labelling is the only certification scheme that sets out to tackle poverty and empower producers in developing countries. Other schemes have as their focus ‘protecting the environment’ or ‘enabling companies to trace their coffee’. They don’t claim, or set out, to help producers improve the quality of their lives and take more control over their futures. Therefore, understandably, they don’t have the systems or standards in place to meet these objectives.
The mission of Fairtrade Labelling is to connect consumers and producers through the Fairtrade Label which signifies fairer trade conditions, thus providing more capacity for disadvantaged producers to combat poverty, strengthen their position and take more control over their future. Twenty years ago Fairtrade Labelling initiatives were set up by major development charities and had as their core purpose the alleviation of poverty and sustainable development. Fairtrade standards are designed to address the imbalance of power in trading relationships, unstable markets and the injustice of conventional trade. So Fairtrade standards apply to traders and producers. Fairtrade is unique in a number of ways:
1. Fairtrade is the only certification system that includes prices (for most products) that cover the costs of sustainable production.
2. Fairtrade helps farmers and workers to tackle poverty, improve the quality of their lives and invest in their futures through the Fairtrade Premium.
3. Fairtrade favours organised small farmers in certain products as they are usually the poorest and most under represented.
4. Fairtrade requirements and standards aim to increase the empowerment of workers.
5. Producers are not simply beneficiaries; they are joint partners in Fairtrade.