Fair trade is not just a way to do good – it is a way to transform businesses, meet sustainability goals and build resilient and transparent supply chains. Fair trade products are found across several industries including coffee, consumer packaged goods, produce, floral, seafood, apparel, and home goods. 

What is fair trade? 

Fair trade is a global movement that puts people and the planet first. It helps connect suppliers and buyers who want to source products from farms and factories that operate with the best social and environmental practices.

The people who produce our food and products face numerous health and safety issues. Fair trade standards help keep workers safe by providing health and safety protections such as eliminating forced and child labor, mandatory training to reduce repetitive stress injuries and pesticide exposure. 

In addition, adhering to fair trade standards comes with added benefits to producer communities. For every Fair Trade Certified™  product sold, the farm or factory workers involved in its production earn an additional amount of money that goes into a worker controlled community development fund at origin to spend on projects that meet their social, economic, and environmental needs.  These community development projects can include clean water, medical facilities, scholarships for children and adults, community centers and more.

The Fair Trade Certified model is a virtuous cycle that improves the lives of workers, farmers, fishers, and their communities

How do brands, retailers, and foodservice companies benefit from fair trade? 

Fair trade increases worker retention and reduces labor shortages at farms and factories by fostering an environment that workers want to come back to year after year. This solidifies supply chains and increases transparency. 

Consumers are increasingly looking for traceability on their products, particularly for food and beverages, and seeking companies that sell ethically-sourced goods. Seventy-nine percent of consumers want to know a company is mindful of practices and will become loyal customers when they are. 

Consumers care about the environment and are increasingly willing to support companies that do, too. As consumers become more educated and conscious of their purchases, they prefer brands that prioritize safety, ethics, and sustainability—showing the value and importance of third-party certifications and labels. Consumers expect brands to align with these values as demand for sustainable and ethically-sourced products continues to rise. 

Brands like Patagonia, Unreal, Guittard, Wholesome Sweeteners, Eco Lips, e.l.f. Cosmetics, Driscoll’s, Kvaroy Artic, and many more, add value to their products by meeting the needs of conscious consumers while protecting producer communities. 

Retailers like Whole Foods, Kroger, Aldi, The Fresh Market, and Sprouts, offer Fair Trade Certified products in various categories. These products also add value, differentiate their own brands, and build trust with their consumers, committing to sourcing coffee, tea, produce, and seafood on fair trade terms and fair trade ingredients for their packaged goods.

Foodservice companies and C-stores like Performance Food Group, Sweetgreen, and Yesway are increasingly adding Fair Trade Certified products to their sustainable sourcing portfolios. 

Retail and foodservice buyers can easily find Fair Trade products on RangeMe, as well as meet with fair trade brands at ECRM’s Sustainable Products: Food & Beverage Session and Sustainable Products: Health & Beauty Care Session.

Benefits of Fair Trade

Here are some of the benefits of working with Fair Trade Certified products:

Resilient supply chains: Fair Trade Certified standards ensure safe and healthy working conditions and protect labor rights and fair wages. Sustainable income and better working conditions help increase worker retention and support more resilient communities. Compliance with fair trade standards actively helps businesses minimize risk throughout their supply chain. 

Meeting ESG goals and alignment with United Nations’ SDGs: Fair Trade Certified tracks more than 150 impact measures (which align to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals). A partnership with Fair Trade USA ™ unlocks metrics that deliver on environmental, social, and economic sustainability commitments. 

Transparent sourcing and storytelling: Brands can share information about sourcing and production with their consumers. Fair trade programs track data from community projects at origin, allowing brands and retailers to source transparently and proudly share impact stories from real workers. 

Loyal consumers: As consumers become more educated and conscious of their purchases, they increasingly show a preference for brands that prioritize safety, ethics, and sustainability showing the value and importance of third-party certifications. 

Retail buyers leverage RangeMe to discover brands and products that are Fair Trade Certified. 

Consumers choose fair trade options

More consumers, especially younger generations, are choosing fair trade options despite a challenging climate of inflation and economic uncertainty. Sixty-five percent of consumers recognize the Fair Trade Certified label and 78% of the general population said they trust Fair Trade Certified. 

Younger generations are more tuned-in to ethical purchasing than their predecessors: 75% of Millennials and 66% of Gen Z recognize the Fair Trade Certified label. This awareness translates to actual purchases: 20% of Millennials said they bought Fair Trade Certified food or beverages in the past three months, nearly double the rate of 11% just three years ago. In fact, 55% of Millennials and 48% of Gen Zs – even with inflation – say they would pay 20% more for a Fair Trade Certified product.   

About Fair Trade USA 

Fair Trade USA, a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, is the leading certifier of fair trade products in North America. Offering award-winning, rigorous, and globally recognized sustainable sourcing certification programs that improve livelihoods, protect the environment, and build resilient, transparent supply chains, its trusted Fair Trade Certified™ seal on a product signifies that it was made according to stringent fair trade standards. Fair Trade USA is building an innovative model of responsible business, conscious consumerism, and shared value to eliminate poverty and enable sustainable development for farmers, workers, their families, and communities around the world. Visit www.fairtradecertified.org to learn more. 

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