Explainer: A Deep Dive Into Fair-trade Certification

By Radha Mishra

June 30, 2024 at 1:30 PM

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Dive into Fair-trade Certification with these ethically sourced products from Ecomilli.com

A Fair-trade Certification is a unique label you might have seen as stickers or printed on certain products. It ensures the products are made fairly and responsibly. The certificate is awarded to the products that meet specific high standards following rigorous checking at all production levels. These standards focus on two key elements: the impact on the planet and the well-being of the workers. Understanding food labels and certifications can be challenging for an average consumer. Let us simplify this for you.

What Fair-trade Certification Means?

Fair-trade certification means the product is made with respect for people and the planet. Imagine buying a fair-trade-certified chocolate bar. This means that the cocoa farmers received fair pay for their work, and the chocolate was produced using techniques that were better for the environment.

Another example of a Fair-trade product is Fair-trade-certified coffee. When you see the certification label, know that the coffee is produced by farmers who receive a fair cost for all their work. They get sustainable livelihoods and better working conditions. Plus, only eco-friendly methods were deployed in its production.

A fair-trade label proves that a business or producer uses good production practices at every step.

Who Are The Certifiers?

There are three influential certifiers whose labels you may have seen on several products. This includes Fairtrade International, Fair Trade USA, and Fair for Life. These institutions award certification after rigorous checking.

They check if the workers receive minimum pay covering sustainable production costs. They also review how much a product's production process harms the environment, including how much carbon dioxide (a greenhouse gas) is released during production and transportation.


Certified products focus on carbon footprint reduction by using eco-friendly techniques. These products are created in environmentally friendly ways. This means using farming methods that do not damage the land, conserving water, using renewable energy sources, and minimizing pollution.

For example, fair-trade coffee might be produced without harmful chemicals and pesticides and shipped, creating less pollution.

These certification bodies also regularly check to ensure that the products they certify adhere to Fair-trade standards. They employ independent auditors to inspect and verify compliance.

The Process of Receiving a Fairtrade Certification:

An official certification is needed for a product to be considered fair trade. A business or producers can opt for the below steps to apply for the certificate:

Step 1: All businesses wishing to obtain a certificate can apply to certifying organizations, such as Fairtrade International or Fair Trade USA.

Step 2: The certifying body checks if the applicant meets essential criteria.

Step 3: Independent auditors visit the site to review if the product and production meet Fairtrade standards.

Step 4: The certifying organization decides whether to grant certification based on the audit.

If certified, these businesses are inspected regularly to ensure adherence to fair trade standards.

What Are the Criteria:

The criteria differ depending on the certifying organization. However, it generally contains several core principles focusing on social, economic, and environmental standards. Below are the main criteria:

Fairtrade International (FLO) focuses on minimum pricing, fair-trade premiums, labour rights, and environmental protection.

Fair Trade USA includes similar criteria, emphasizing farm management and worker empowerment.

Fair for Life focuses on social sustainability, environmental standards, and fair-trade practices across the supply chain.

Rainforest Alliance emphasizes environmental sustainability, biodiversity conservation, and the welfare of farm workers.

UTZ Certified Concentrates on good agricultural practices, efficient farming, and traceability of products.

Fair-trade certification encompasses comprehensive criteria to promote fair pay, safe working conditions, sustainability, and community development. These standards are enforced through rigorous auditing and continuous monitoring to ensure compliance and improvement.

Why is Certification Important?

Fair-trade Certification is essential because it allows consumers to make choices that align with their values, such as caring for the climate and supporting the fair treatment of workers.

Second, certification builds trust by showing that the product is made responsibly. Embracing a sustainable lifestyle involves ethical consumption through sustainable shopping. Choosing eco-friendly products with green certification is a way to show some love to Mother Earth.

Third, trust in certification ensures accountability in production. It also fosters an ethical supply chain and supports sustainable brands that offer carbon-neutral products. By choosing Fairtrade, you support a system that values human rights and environmental health.

Fourth, socially responsible brands promote green consumerism. It contributes to sustainable development and ensures fair wage certification.


Are There Any Drawbacks to Certification?

Obtaining and maintaining certification can be exhausting and expensive. It involves application fees, audit costs, and continued compliance costs, which can be a burden, especially for small-scale farmers.

Moreover, the complex certification process needs thorough documentation and adjustments to farming practices.

Although certification can open up new markets, it must secure sufficient market demand to neutralize the costs.

Fairtrade certification is a powerful system encouraging fair-trade practices, sustainable farming, and community development. While advantageous in many ways, it also presents challenges linked to cost and complexity, particularly for small businesses and producers.

Radha Mishra
Radha Mishra

Radha Mishra is a seasoned journalist with over a decade of newsroom experience. Now working independently, she is passionate about covering issues that matter. She strives to deliver accurate and impactful stories to audiences globally.

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