What is Fairtrade?

Many of us are familiar with the FAIRTRADE Mark and are aware that it is supposed to guarantee that a product has been produced and traded in an ethical manner. But what exactly is involved in this process? How does it benefit the producers? And why should we be paying a premium for Fairtrade products?

The Fairtrade certification process is based on a set of internationally agreed standards that are designed to support the social and economic development of small-scale farmers and plantation workers. To obtain Fairtrade certification, buyers and producers are required to work in partnership to meet product-specific standards, ensuring that farmers and farm-workers are paid fairly for their work.

Fairtrade payments can be broken down into two main categories; the first is the ‘Fairtrade price’, a guaranteed minimum price for a product that protects farmers from volatile fluctuations in the market. The second is the ‘Fairtrade premium’, an additional sum of money that is paid to a communal fund that is used by farmer’s associations to improve their social, economic and environmental conditions.

To use the FAIRTRADE Mark on a product, the producers and traders of the ingredients must be inspected by FLO-CERT, a third party certification body, who ensure that all the standards have been adhered to. Generally speaking, at least 20% of the ingredients of a product must be Fairtrade certified in order for the product to display the FAIRTRADE Mark.

Fairtrade standards are designed to support the sustainable development of small producer organisations and agricultural workers in the poorest countries in the world. 10 of Pukka’s 30 teas carry a ‘Fair’ certification (Fairtrade or FairWild; see below). Here are the key Fairtrade Standards from Fairtrade International:

1) Social development: For small-scale producers Fairtrade standards require an organisational structure that allows the producers to actually bring a product to the market. All members of the organisation need to have access to democratic decision-making processes and as far as possible participate in the activities of the organisation. The organisation needs to be set up in a transparent way for its members and must not discriminate any particular member or social group.

2) Economic development: For all products Fairtrade standards require the buyers to pay a Fairtrade Minimum Price and/or a Fairtrade Premium to the producers. The Fairtrade Minimum Price aims to help producers cover the costs of sustainable production. The Fairtrade Premium is money for the producers or for the workers on a plantation to invest in improving the quality of their lives.

3) Environmental development: Fairtrade standards include requirements for environmentally sound agricultural practices. The focus areas are: minimised and safe use of agrochemicals, proper and safe management of waste, maintenance of soil fertility and water resources and no use of genetically modified organisms.

4) Forced labour and child labour: Forced labour and child labour are prohibited in the Fairtrade standards. We source Fairtrade Cinnamon, Ginger, Spearmint, Vanilla, Rooibos, Green tea, Black tea from Vietnam, India, Egypt, South Africa and Uganda.