In late August, Fair Trade USA (FTUSA) announced a new labeling policy for multi-ingredient products. When the initial draft of this policy was released in the spring, Fair World Project opposed many of the proposed changes. The final published policy does address some of our concerns, for example it eliminates the exemption for dairy in calculating percentage of fair trade ingredients and requires a disclosure of the total percentage of ingredients that are actually certified.
However, FTUSA is still eliminating the commercial availability requirement for most items, that is the requirement that any ingredient available in fair trade form be sourced as such. Though it may make sense to offer some sourcing flexibility to well-intentioned brads that may source ingredients ethically through non-certified supply chains, FTUSA does not have additional safeguards to ensure that ingredients sourced domestically or through non-certified international supply chains are not exploiting farmers. FTUSA has also kept the threshold of only 20% ingredients certified before a product label can be used. Research has also shown that consumers benefit from a disclosure of percentage of certified ingredients on the front of the package. Because there are still concerns in terms of accountability and transparency, FWP will continue to track the impact of this policy and advocate for continual improvement.