Nowadays, there are so many logos that claim to be Fairtrade certified. However, these logos have never shown what kinds of standards they are using to make real impacts in real life. This pehnomenon is called Fairwashing, a marketing strategy to build a reputation for comapnies. Most of the time, these companies just want to attract more customers to buy their products, making people feel they are environmentally-conscious. However, what are some of the criteria when it comes to making a good label?

The most commonly seen logo on products like banana, coffee, tea, etc

9 Rules that make a good fair trade label

1. Guarantees an ongoing commitment to fair trade

2. Has standards that are set and audited by third parties

3. Explains how the standards are set and audited

4. Has a governance model that engages meaningfully with producers

5. Works to dismantle industry power dynamics

6. Guarantees a minimum price for its products that covers the cost of production at least

7. Ensures transparent governance and decision-making systems

8. Builds capacity, education opportunities, and training initiatives for producer cooperatives

9. Focuses on producers in the global South

The Small Producers’ Symbol represents an alliance among small producers to develop a local and global market that value the economic, social, cultural and ecological contributions of products from Small Producers’ Organizations.

What are some examples of good, trustworthy labels?

The Small Producers Symbol

  • Created and operated by producer cooperatives
  • Focuses on small-scale producers and cooperatives
  • Fully committed Fairtrade companies that are governed by a producer network
  • Follow standard fair trade principles for product certification

Fairtrade International

  • The most recognized label worldwide and accepted as the highest standard among labels
  • 50% owned, managed, and run by producers
  • Standards focus on social, environmental, and economic sustainability
  • Audits are completed entirely by a third party
  • Requires transparency and certification through every step of the supply chain
  • Is a full member of the International Commercial Law Alliance
  • Fairtrade is the only fair trade label in Canada that our government endorses

Logos for Handicraft goods

Fair Trade Federation

  • Member-based verification system for fair trade companies
  • Companies in this federation overall commit to fair trade by adhering to the FTF code of practice and 9 principles of fair trade: 
  1. create opportunities

  2. develop transparent & accountable relationships

  3. build capacity

  4. promote fair trade

  5. pay promptly and fairly

  6. support safe & empowering working conditions

  7. ensure the rights of children

  8. cultivate environmental stewardship

  9. respect cultural identity

World Fair Trade Organization (WFTO)

  • A global network for artisans, traders, wholesalers and retailers
  • This logo certifies that a company has sourced adequately through fair trade and handicraft

Logos that are not accepted

Fair for Life

  • Only focuses on producers in the Global South and excludes producers in developed country
  • NO minimum: producers have to negotiate their own price, leaving them vulnerable when market prices are down
  • Does not give extra support to producers in the Global South
  • Low standards: accepts all companies that have certification from any self-claimed fair trade certifier

Fair Trade USA

  • Low standards when it comes to what can carry a Fair Trade USA logo: only 5% of a product’s ingredients need to be labeled as fair trade
  • Certify producers outside of the global South
  • Inadequate producer involvement in governance
  • Auditing is not guaranteed and relies on other labels to verify its products
  • Has a history of mislabelling products that are no longer certified as fair trade
  • Their labels can only apply to parts of the supply chain not multiple steps of the products