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Fairtrade is an alternative approach to conventional trade and is based on a partnership between producers and consumers. Fairtrade offers producers a better deal and improved terms of trade. This allows them the opportunity to improve their lives and plan for their future. Fairtrade offers consumers a powerful way to reduce poverty through their every day shopping.
When a product carries the it means the producers and traders have met Fairtrade standards. The are designed to address the imbalance of power in trading relationships, unstable markets and the injustices of conventional trade.
There are two distinct sets of Fairtrade, which acknowledge different types of disadvantaged producers. One set of standards applies to smallholders that are working together in co-operatives or other organizations with a democratic structure. The other set applies to workers, whose employers pay decent wages, guarantee the right to join trade unions, ensure health and safety standards and provide adequate housing where relevant.
Fairtrade standards also cover terms of trade. Most products have a Fairtrade price, which is the minimum that must be paid to the producers. In addition producers get an additional sum, the Fairtrade Premium, to invest in their communities.
The following organizations are behind Fairtrade:
FLO is a non-profit, multi stakeholder body that is responsible for the strategic direction of Fairtrade, sets Fairtrade standards and supports producers. .
FLO-CERT is an independent certification company, owned by FLO.inspects producers and traders to ensure they comply with Fairtrade standards.
These are national organizations that market Fairtrade in their country. There are currently 19covering 23 countries in Europe, North America, Japan, Australia and New Zealand. These organizations also licence companies to use the FAIRTRADE Mark on products in their country.
These are associations that Fairtrade certified producer groups may join. There are currently three, representing producers in Africa, Asia and Latin America and the Caribbean. Through these networks, Fairtrade producers can influence decisions that affect their future.
These are national organizations that market and promote Fairtrade in their country, similar to Labelling Initiatives. FLO directly licenses companies in these countries to use the FAIRTRADE Certification Mark. There are currently two Fairtrade Marketing Organizations, in South Africa and in the Czech Republic.