Comparison of geographic scope of fair trade and eco-social certifiers

This analysis is intended to help consumers, retailers, brands, and advocates better understand the scope of different eco-social and fair trade certifiers, with a particular focus on whether certification is open to producers in both the Global North and Global South. We hope, in part, that this will contribute to the conversation about how to distinguish traditional fair trade as organized smallholders in the Global South as the concepts are expanded and applied in new areas.

Meets FWP’s expectations and/or is a model program in this area
Acceptable policy that at least meets current industry standards, but there is room for improvement
Problem area/red flag that needs immediate improvement
Yes
Possible but not happening or happens in only some cases. Refer to notes.
No

Overall ANALYSIS

Q1: FWP overall analysis

Fairtrade America

Fairtrade International and its US initiative Fairtrade America opened up certification to large-scale production without adequately strong standards or clear labeling; they could also improve incorporation of worker representatives in formal governance, especially given their identification of workers as primary beneficiaries in some cases and could better collaborate with organizations working to build solidarity economy movements with producers in the Global North.

FWP rating:


Fair Trade USA

Fair Trade USA has expanded the use of fair trade to large scale production in an increasing number of products as well as into production in the Global North without adequate stakeholder involvement and in contradiction to the requests of stakeholders in the movement including small-scale producers.

FWP rating:


Fair For Life (IMO)

Fair for Life has implemented additional requirements for production in the Global North and for large-scale production, but does not have a policy requiring clear labels for large-scale production or production in the Global North; their stakeholder involvement in formal decision making could also be improved.

FWP rating:


AJP - Agricultural Justice Project - link

AJP

AJP has developed standards for what they refer to as “domestic fair trade” but the seal is called Food Justice Certified to distinguish it from traditional fair trade; however, AJP does not distinguish between large and small-scale production.

FWP rating:


UTZ Certified

Utz does not distinguish between large and small scale production and certifies just three product ingredients without strong collaboration with stakeholders working in other sectors or areas of the supply chain.

FWP rating:


Rainforest Alliance Certified

Rainforest Alliance does not distinguish between large and small-scale production, could better collaborate with organizations working to build solidarity economy movements with producers in the Global North, and could improve their stakeholder involvement in formal decision-making.

FWP rating:


Small Producers Symbol (SPP)

The Small Producer Symbol has re-centered the fair trade movement around small-scale producers, starting in Latin America and has shown early signs of willingness to collaborate to ensure fairness along the supply chain and in the Global North.

FWP rating:

Q2: What types of products, farms, types of businesses can be certified for this program?

Fairtrade America

Agricultural commodities including coffee, cocoa, tea, cotton, fruits, spices, also gold and sports balls.


Fair Trade USA

Agricultural commodities including coffee, cocoa, tea, cotton, fruits, spices, and home-goods and apparel.


Fair For Life (IMO)

Any agricultural products including livestock, seafood, crafts, textiles plus production facilities.


AJP - Agricultural Justice Project - link

AJP

Any agriculture product plus production facilities and retail stores.


UTZ Certified

Coffee, tea, and cocoa.


Rainforest Alliance Certified

Variety of agricultural products plus other products like guitars and furniture.


Small Producers Symbol (SPP)

Any agriculture or craft production.

Which of the following are eligible for this program? (questions 3-5)

Q3: Produced in Global South and Sold in Global North

Fairtrade America

Yes

FWP rating:


Fair Trade USA

Yes

FWP rating:


Fair For Life (IMO)

Yes

FWP rating:


AJP - Agricultural Justice Project - link

AJP

There is nothing that excludes such trade from eligibility though there are no products currently certified that are produced in the Global South.

FWP rating:


UTZ Certified

Yes

FWP rating:


Rainforest Alliance Certified

Yes

FWP rating:


Small Producers Symbol (SPP)

Yes

FWP rating:

Q4: Produced in Global South and Sold in Global South

Fairtrade America

Fairtrade America is the US-labeling initiative for this seal and not engaged in this type of trade. However, globally, some countries, notably South Africa, Kenya and India, have both producer groups and a labeling initiative granting domestic brands use of seal. For example, in India, you can purchase fair trade basmati rice produced in India.

FWP rating:


Fair Trade USA

There is nothing that excludes such trade from eligibility though there are no products currently certified that are sold n the Global South.

FWP rating:


Fair For Life (IMO)

There is nothing that excludes such trade from eligibility though there are no products currently certified that are sold in the Global South.

FWP rating:


AJP - Agricultural Justice Project - link

AJP

There is nothing that excludes such trade from eligibility though there are no products currently certified that are produced in the Global South.

FWP rating:


UTZ Certified

Yes – Primarily trade between countries in Global South rather than local domestic markets.

FWP rating:


Rainforest Alliance Certified

Yes – Primarily trade between countries in Global South rather than local domestic markets.

FWP rating:


Small Producers Symbol (SPP)

Yes

FWP rating:

Q5: Produced in Global North and Sold in Global North

Fairtrade America

No

FWP rating:


Fair Trade USA

Yes

FWP rating:


Fair For Life (IMO)

Yes

FWP rating:


AJP - Agricultural Justice Project - link

AJP

Yes

FWP rating:


UTZ Certified

No

FWP rating:


Rainforest Alliance Certified

There is nothing that excludes such trade from eligibility, though production is now focused on Global South.

FWP rating:


Small Producers Symbol (SPP)

No

FWP rating:

DetailS covering key elements that inform our overall aNALYSIS

Q6: In what ways does the program identify region of primary production or distinguish between production in Global North and Global South

Fairtrade America

Does not make a distinction but all production is in Global South.

FWP rating:


Fair Trade USA

Does not adequately identify production regions.

FWP rating:


Fair For Life (IMO)

Does not adequately identify production regions.

FWP rating:


AJP - Agricultural Justice Project - link

AJP

Does not make a distinction but all production is in Global North.

FWP rating:


UTZ Certified

Does not make a distinction but all production is in Global South.

FWP rating:


Rainforest Alliance Certified

Does not make distinction but production currently focused on Global South.

FWP rating:


Small Producers Symbol (SPP)

Does not make a distinction but all production is in Global South.

FWP rating:

Q7: Does this program limit eligibility to small-scale producers

Fairtrade America

Limited for some products only. Others (notably tea, bananas, and flowers) include plantations.

FWP rating:


Fair Trade USA

Eligibility is not limited to small-scale producers. Controversially, Fair Trade USA applies its standards to large-scale coffee plantations that compete against small-scale producers as well as apparel and home goods produced in factories that compete in the market against traditional handicrafts produced by small-scale producers.

FWP rating:


Fair For Life (IMO)

Production at any scale is eligible, but requirements and eligibility are stricter for large-scale production.

FWP rating:


AJP - Agricultural Justice Project - link

AJP

There is no scale requirement.

FWP rating:


UTZ Certified

There is no scale requirement.

FWP rating:


Rainforest Alliance Certified

Though they state almost all production is from small-scale organized producers, there is no scale requirement.

FWP rating:


Small Producers Symbol (SPP)

Yes, eligibility is restricted to small-scale organized producers using clear definitions.

FWP rating:

Q8: In what ways does the program distinguish scale of production system on labels?

Fairtrade America

It is not clear from a label whether products or ingredients are produced by small-scale producers or on large-scale farms.

FWP rating:


Fair Trade USA

It is not clear from a label whether products or ingredients are produced by small-scale producers or on large-scale farms.

FWP rating:


Fair For Life (IMO)

It is not clear from a label whether products or ingredients are produced by small-scale producers or on large-scale farms.

FWP rating:


AJP - Agricultural Justice Project - link

AJP

It is not clear from a label whether products or ingredients are produced by small-scale producers or on large-scale farms.

FWP rating:


UTZ Certified

It is not clear from a label whether products or ingredients are produced by small-scale producers or on large-scale farms.

FWP rating:


Rainforest Alliance Certified

It is not clear from a label whether products or ingredients are produced by small-scale producers or on large-scale farms.

FWP rating:


Small Producers Symbol (SPP)

The label is only applied in the case of small-scale production.

FWP rating:

Q9: In what way is the primary focus of this program identified to distinguish from other programs with another focus?

Fairtrade America

First international system to develop fair trade standards; still uses “fair trade” in its traditional definition of association with South/North trade; however has expanded its use to include plantations rather than only organized small-scale producers as originally intended. They have set some limits on expansion producting many traditional small-scale sector.

FWP rating:


Fair Trade USA

Uses fair trade and applies the descriptor to a variety of scenarios, many of which are deviations from the original intent and definition of fair trade. They have explicitly stated their intent to expand fair trade with no safeguards to protect the original meaning of the term.

FWP rating:


Fair For Life (IMO)

Uses Fair for Life with fair trade as descriptor; has applied fair trade to new areas such as “domestic fair trade” without making additional distinctions. Fair for Life does require domestic and large-scale operations to show why fair trade should apply to them.

FWP rating:


AJP - Agricultural Justice Project - link

AJP

Uses Food Justice Certified but also use fair trade or domestic fair trade as descriptor.

FWP rating:


UTZ Certified

Uses UTZ certified with tagline of better farming, better future.

FWP rating:


Rainforest Alliance Certified

Rainforest Alliance signifies a primary focus on environmental standards in regions where rainforests exist.

FWP rating:


Small Producers Symbol (SPP)

While also using a descriptor of fair trade, the Small Producer Symbol itself indicates small-scale production.

FWP rating:

Q10: How is geographical or cultural context accounted for? (Are standards applied to production in North and South the same? Are appropriate stakeholders involved for different regions and contexts?)

Fairtrade America

Standards are only applied to production in Global South and producers for all regions of the Global South are included in decision-making; however Fairtrade America (Fairtrade International) does not include worker representatives in the Global South in formal governance even though some standards are specifically worker standards.

FWP rating:


Fair Trade USA

The hired labor standards developed for the Global South are applied to production in the Global North and no apparent stakeholder process was held to determine whether they are appropriate in this context; fair trade traditionally has been a movement of small-scale producers in the Global South and to apply the term now to large-scale production in the Global North is several degrees of separation from its original intent without adequate stakeholder involvement in the process.

FWP rating:


Fair For Life (IMO)

The same standards are applied to production in both Global South and North, however for production in the Global North, there is an additional requirement to show how fair trade applies. When standards are revised, a diversity of stakeholders are consulted. However, it is not clear to what extend stakeholders were consulted about regional applications before the standards were used for production in the Global North.

FWP rating:


AJP - Agricultural Justice Project - link

AJP

Standards are only applied currently to production in Global North where they were developed with solid stakeholder involvement.

FWP rating:


UTZ Certified

Standards are only applied to production in Global South with stakeholder involvement from throughout the supply chain.

FWP rating:


Rainforest Alliance Certified

Standards are only applied to production in Global South, with limited stakeholder involvement from producers there.

FWP rating:


Small Producers Symbol (SPP)

Program was developed by small-scale farmers themselves, making it the only program developed by the population intended to be served; standards are only applied to production in the Global South, focused on Latin America but recently opened to other regions of the Global South.

FWP rating:

Q11: Do any policies, codes of conduct, or criteria address trading relationships or production that is outside the scope of actual certification?

Fairtrade America

No. Product lines or ingredients produced in the Global North or otherwise not within the scope of certificaiton are not subject to any ethical requirements. With the exception of their new and problematic Fairtrade Sourcing Partnership in Europe, all ingredients considered certifiable must be.

FWP rating:


Fair Trade USA

No. Product lines or ingredients not certified are not subject to any ethical requirements.

FWP rating:


Fair For Life (IMO)

Yes. A fair-washing policy and other requirements restrict traders engaged in unfair trading elsewhere from certifying any products or ingredients.

FWP rating:


AJP - Agricultural Justice Project - link

AJP

Yes. Requirements restrict traders engaged in unfair trading elsewhere from certifying any products or ingredients.

FWP rating:


UTZ Certified

No. Product lines or ingredients produced in the Global North or otherwise not within the scope of certification are not subject to any ethical requirements.

FWP rating:


Rainforest Alliance Certified

There is a limited policy requiring some high risk products to have a sustainability plan even if they are not certified. However, this only applies to certain products produced in the Global South and is primarily restricted to environmental risk.

FWP rating:


Small Producers Symbol (SPP)

Yes. A code of conduct requires all trading relationships, even those outside of the scope of certification, to be fair.

FWP rating:

Q12: To what extent have intended beneficiaries shown support for this program?

Fairtrade America

Producers from the regions eligible for certification hold board positions and votes in the general assembly, however workers are not formally incorporated even from among sectors and regions where application of hired labor standards are common.

FWP rating:


Fair Trade USA

Stakeholder engagement has been poor and in particular key stakeholders were not consulted before standards were applied domestically and members of the labor movement asked them not to move forward with their factory apparel program without making significant changes, but FTUSA moved ahead anyway.

FWP rating:


Fair For Life (IMO)

IMO has reached out to stakeholders for input, though has not included relevant producers or workers in development of standards or formal governance.

FWP rating:


AJP - Agricultural Justice Project - link

AJP

Producers and workers in North America were engaged in program development.

FWP rating:


UTZ Certified

Stakeholder engagement has been limited, especially at the decision making and program development levels.

FWP rating:


Rainforest Alliance Certified

Stakeholder engagement has been limited, especially at the decision making and program development levels.

FWP rating:


Small Producers Symbol (SPP)

Producers themselves developed the standards and policies and continue to hold the standards.

FWP rating:


Why is this important?

Fair trade has historically referred to a movement to provide economic opportunities to small-scale farmers and artisans in the Global South. More recently, the concept has expanded and various people have tried to apply the principles of fair trade to other situations such as large-scale agriculture and agricultural production in the Global North.

FWP believes that eradicating exploitation and unfair conditions wherever they exist is vital to a just economy, but that fair trade certification is not always the correct tool to achieve this. Therefore, expanding the use of fair trade certification into new territory should be done transparently and with involvement of both the current fair trade movement as well as the intended beneficiaries of expansion.

In addition, if and when certification expands to include new situations, communication and labeling should be clear and transparent for consumers. Because of fair trade’s strong association with small-scale producers in the Global South, it is not currently appropriate to apply the words “fair trade” to large-scale agriculture or production in the Global North without indicating the scale or scope clearly.

Updated: July 30, 2014 (Please note this information is up to date based on our own research using publicly available information as well as, in some cases, direct correspondence with programs. Any corrections or questions can be directed to [email protected])

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