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Fairtrade America Revises Standards

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Every actor in the produce supply chain knows that timing is the key to ensuring that fresh fruit arrives at peak ripeness on store shelves. The challenge for Fairtrade is ensuring that standards are both robust and flexible so that products arrive in time while assuring impact for farmers and workers. Recently rolled out revisions to the Fairtrade Standard for fresh produce aims to make it easier for traders to participate in Fairtrade and for producers to increase sales on Fairtrade terms.

Demand for Fairtrade produce continues to grow with an estimated 51 percent increase in sales of Fairtrade fresh produce in 2016-17. Recent research by Globescan demonstrated that the majority of US consumers were willing to pay up to 10 cents more per pound for fair trade certified bananas (see full details here).

“Fairtrade is about finding the right balance between rigorous standards and accessibility to markets. These new changes can help make markets more accessible while ensuring impact for farmers and workers,” said Derek Mulhern, Business Development Manager at Fairtrade America.

Major changes include:

  • Traceability extended– Fairtrade requires that all fruits indicate packing station, date of packing, and identification of small-producer organization when applicable. Previously only bananas were required to comply with traceability. The change aims to increase transparency, and ensure that producers are complying with good agricultural practices and food safety requirements.
  • Retro-certification for all fresh produce – Traders can retro-certify fresh produce after a conventional purchase from a certified producer organization. All volumes must be reported, especially to producers, and payment of Fairtrade Premiums and any required price adjustments must be made.
  • Flexible payment – New requirement allows payments for produce to be made in one sum to save on transaction costs if the producer organization agrees.
  • Floor wages – Fairtrade now requires that base wages paid to workers in Fairtrade Hired Labor set-ups cannot fall below the global poverty line of $1.90/day following Purchasing Power Parity rules set by the World Bank.
  • Payment of Fairtrade Premium for wine grapes – Payment terms for the Fairtrade Premium in wine graphs has been extended to 60 days reflecting current business practices.

In addition, the Fairtrade Standards provide rules on payment terms, flexibility for shortfalls on sales, quality claims, and clarification of the roles of different actors in the supply chain. These changes improve transparency among all actors and ensure mutually-beneficial trade terms.

Fairtrade International regularly reviews and updates standards and pricing policies through in-depth consultations and workshops with producer organizations, traders, brands and other stakeholders around the world. All changes are approved by the Fairtrade Standards Committee, which includes representatives from traders, farmers and workers, and independent experts. Fairtrade is the only ethical certification with equal representation for farmers and workers in the general assembly, board and standards committee.

Though bananas and avocados are the most popular Fairtrade produce, there are Fairtrade certified sources for pineapple, mangos, pomegranate, physalis, passion fruit, cucumbers, green beans, peas, apples, pears and berries.

About Fairtrade America

The FAIRTRADE label, licensed by Fairtrade America, is the most recognized and trusted ethical certification worldwide. By complying with the rigorous social, economic and environmental criteria in the internationally-agreed Fairtrade Standards, farmers, traders and brands can improve the sustainability of their entire supply chain. There are currently more than 1.65 million farmers and workers in certified organizations across 74 countries. The FAIRTRADE label appears on more than 35,000 products sold in over 140 countries. Visit www.fairtradeamerica.org to learn more.

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