Fair trade is a movement that seeks greater social, economic and environmental justice in the trade system. It works predominantly with producers in the Global South, who are more likely to experience exploitation. Many consumer goods can be bought locally, such as local produce. But when we’re importing goods, it’s important to make sure that the producer of those goods received a fair wage. Fair trade products that have been verified or certified by a third party are part of this movement that seeks greater equity.
What are fair trade products?
For Rosette Fair Trade, fair trade products are those that are certified or verified by a third-party body with high socioeconomic and environmental standards. Some of those standards vary slightly from body to body, but they typically include things like:
- Payment of a fair price to the producer
- Safe working conditions, including hours worked per day
- Prohibition of forced labour and/or child labour
- Non-discrimination and gender equality, as well as freedom of association
- Transparency and accountability throughout the supply chain, so that consumers can make informed choices
- Fair trading relationships, where the needs of all parties are discussed in good faith
- Environmental protections, including controlling pesticides and other chemicals
- Capacity-building, so that producers’ growth continues over time
What is genuine fair trade?
You may see the phrase “genuine fair trade” scattered throughout the website. For Rosette, genuine fair trade products are those that are verified or certified by a body that has high fair trade standards. So in our view, the highest standards are held by:
- Fairtrade International (Fairtrade Canada)
- Fair Trade Federation (FTF)
- Small Producers’ Symbol (SPP)
- Fair For Life (IMO)
While some other bodies claim to be fair trade, Rosette does not feel that their standards have the same positive socioeconomic impact. For this reason, we don’t consider them to represent genuine fair trade. All of the fair trade products that we sell are certified or verified under one of the bodies listed above.
Who are the main actors in the movement?
There are many actors in the fair trade movement that play different roles in bringing the movement to life!
Certifiers and verifying bodies
Certifiers and verifying bodies are the ones that oversee fair trade products. For example, you may have seen the symbols above on various products, and that’s because it’s part of the process of ensuring that a product is fair trade. Some examples of these bodies: Fairtrade Canada, Fair Trade Federation, Small Producers’ Symbol, Fair For Life.
Fair trade businesses
Fair trade businesses are the ones that create and usually distribute the products that we buy, using the raw materials from the producers. These are the ones who put their brand name on the product packaging and promote their fair trade products. Some examples of these businesses: Camino, Cha’s Organics, Nu-Tea.
That’s us! Retailers (or distributors) are responsible for reaching more consumers by carrying fair trade products from various companies. Distributors are more likely to also sell products to other retailers, while retailers usually only sell directly to the consumer. A few examples of retailers: Rosette Fair Trade, Ten Thousand Villages, your local health food store that carries fair trade!
Fair trade would be nothing without the producers. They’re the ones that work the fields to grow the cocoa beans for your chocolate bar, or the cotton for your shirt. It’s hard work, so the fair trade movement works hard to ensure that producers receive a fair wage for their labour.
Sometimes when people talk about producers, they’re also talking about artisans who make fair trade products like handicrafts. These are people who do other types of skilled labour like weaving fabric or upcycling items into beautiful home decor.
Some examples of these producers: Cooperativa Norandino (cocoa, coffee, sugar) in Peru, Chetna Organic (cotton) in India, El Guabo (bananas) in Ecuador.
That’s you! The person who consumes fair trade products once they’re available for purchase. They play an important role in the fair trade movement because they invest money in the system and keep it going!
Civil society groups
This is a general term to mean nonprofit organizations, activists and other community groups. They promote fair trade products and educate folks about fair trade in general. They educate consumers, as well as retailers and politicians, for example, to encourage more people to support the movement. Some examples of these groups: Fair Trade Ottawa Équitable (Fair Trade Town group), Oxfam Canada (NGO), AQCÉ (education network) in Quebec.