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Why doesnt the FAIRTRADE Mark apply to UK farmers?

The FAIRTRADE Mark was established specifically to support the most disadvantaged producers in the world by using trade as a tool for sustainable development. We do recognise that many farmers in the UK face similar issues as farmers elsewhere, not least ensuring that they get a decent return for upholding social and environmental standards in their production.  However there are also some major differences. For example, farmers in developing countries often have little infrastructural support, social security systems or other safety nets available if they cannot get a fair price for their products. Our Fairtrade standards, and our expertise, are specifically focused on enabling producers in developing countries tackle poverty through trade. If the Foundation diverted its own attention from this mission, this could potentially end up diluting the benefits of Fairtrade for the very farmers and workers we were established to support. We agree that the principles behind fair trade may provide useful insight into the debate on improving the situation for UK producers. However, the Foundation is not convinced that a labelling scheme is the right solution to the problems affecting UK farmers. A plethora of similar sounding labelling initiatives could result in confusion for consumers and undermine both the local cause and the global situation we care so deeply about.  Rather than yet another label, the Foundation believes a more rigorous investigation by government and the industry itself is needed. This should look into the causes behind the problems being experienced by domestic producers, so that more robust and wide reaching policy tools can be identified – to benefit all affected farmers and to reassure all concerned shoppers.

How do I visit a Fairtrade producer group?

Fairtrade International (FLO) has told us that farmers and workers groups are receiving increasing numbers of requests to host visits from the general public. Many groups regret that they are unable to host visits because of their lack of resources and the disruption caused to their work. If there is a clear and definite positive outcome for the producer organisation such as media coverage or project funding arising from a visit, we would be happy to discuss your needs - please get in touch. A growing number of Fairtrade certified producer groups are diversifying into tourism as an alternative source of income. They include: Africa South Africa, Tanzania, Ethiopia: The PASEO Programme helps farmers develop tourism as an additional source of income. The programme has three initial tours with more to follow: Orange Tour to Zebediele Citrus Estate in Limpopo Province, South Africa,Coffee Tour to Kilimanjaro Native Co-operative Union (KNCU) in Tanzania and Coffee Tour to Oromia Coffee Farmers Co-operative Union in Ethiopia Tanzania: Kahawa Shamba means ‘Coffee Farm’ in Swahili. Set in the beautiful foothills of Kilimanjaro, on a ridge overlooking the Weruweru Gorge, Kahawa Shamba is a community-based project half-owned by KNCU, a Fairtrade certified coffee co-operative.  The project was implemented to bring in extra income via tourism to the small-scale coffee farmers in the area and was developed by Tribes along with partners Cafédirect, the charity Twin and the UK Government’s Department for International Development (DFID). Asia India: Makaibari Tea Estate in Darjeeling hosts tourists. Central and South America Nicaragua: Nicaragua Solidarity Campaign organises study tours including visits to Fairtrade coffee producer groups. Costa Rica:  Coope Santa Elena is one of nine coffee co-operatives that are members of the Coocafe Co-operative Union. They have a visitor programme and support local study tours. Ecuador: El Guabo Banana Growers’ Co-operative. ‘The real Ecuador experience. An opportunity to meet local people, learn about Fairtrade and organic banana production and to experience real life at the plantation.’ Email: marco.valle@asoguabo.com.ec Telephone:+593(0)9 432 7740. Mexico: US coffee company Higher Grounds Trading Co. organises customised tours to visit Fairtrade coffee co-ops in Chiapas. Belize: The Toledo Ecotourism Association runs guesthouses and walks in small communities where farmers sell their cocoa under Fairtrade terms. All countries Traidcraft organises ‘People to People Tours’ that include visits to their fair trade producer partners. Please note that the Fairtrade Foundation claims no responsibility for these independent projects.

Are Fairtrade products fully traceable?

For most Fairtrade products including bananas, fresh fruit, coffee, flowers, nuts, rice, spices and others, the Fairtrade system requires these products to be physically traceable. This means they must be labelled and kept separate at every stage of their journey from the farm to the shop shelves. However, when we attempted to introduce similar rules for products such as cocoa, sugar, tea and juice, we discovered that there is very little physical traceability in the way these sectors work. For example, the chocolate industry is currently not always able to keep Fairtrade cocoa and non-Fairtrade cocoa separate at every stage of production from the cocoa field to the final bar. Cocoa beans are delivered in bulk by farmers and routinely mixed during shipping and in the manufacturing process. Rather than ruling out these sectors and losing Fairtrade sales opportunities for thousands of small farmers, Fairtrade has set up a system to ensure that manufacturers that want to use the FAIRTRADE Mark must buy the precise amount of produce they need from Fairtrade farmers that will be used in their final product. This system is known as ‘mass balance’.  So, if a chocolate bar uses 500 tonnes of cocoa, then the manufacturer must purchase 500 tonnes of cocoa on Fairtrade terms, including the payment of an additional $200 Fairtrade Premium per tonne. This means that even if the beans are later mixed with non-Fairtrade beans - as often happens - Fairtrade cocoa farmers still get 100 per cent of the benefits, and the better deal that the FAIRTRADE Mark stands for.  Our mission is to support farmers and workers in the developing world to increase their share in global trade. Fairtrade’s stringent inspection and audit system is in place to ensure the amount of Fairtrade product manufactured exactly matches the amount of Fairtrade product purchased.

Why doesnt Fairtrade certify large coffee plantations?

Around 70% of the world’s coffee farmers are small-scale growers, and they face particular disadvantages in the market place. Fairtrade’s mission is to make trade work for marginalised or disadvantaged producers, and therefore there is a global agreement that the system should champion purchase of sustainable coffee from organisations of small coffee farmers explicitly. Read our fairtrade_and_coffee_plantations (22.25KB) (PDF) to find out more.

Where can I find images of Fairtrade producers?

The Fairtrade Foundation has a limited number of producer images that are available to use in accordance with copyright agreements. Visit our Media Library for more details.

Are exceptions ever made to the Fairtrade Standards?

Like other standard-setting organisations, we understand that standards systems sometimes need to make exceptions. At Fairtrade, any exceptions we make must meet the following principles: - We carefully consider all exceptions to ensure that overall, there is benefit for producers or workers. - We assess the risk to the credibility of Fairtrade and how to manage this risk. - We apply the exceptions to all in the supply chain that might be affected by a particular situation. - We ensure that the exceptions do not set a precedent that we would not want to see again. - We ensure exceptions are limited either by time or by volume. We closely monitor all the exceptions we make at the Fairtrade Foundation. Depending on the situation, exceptions are approved by our Certification and Oversight Committee (CAOC). The CAOC is a group of independent assurance experts who meet regularly to scrutinise the activity of the Fairtrade Foundation's Product Integrity team. This team review and uphold our licensees' compliance with the Fairtrade Standards.

Why isnt the Fairtrade price calculated as a percentage of the retail price?

We are often asked how much farmers receive from the retail price of a product sold on Fairtrade terms compared to the same product sold on conventional terms. While this type of comparison may appear to be a simple way to demonstrate the impact of Fairtrade from the consumer’s perspective, it doesn’t actually address the real inequities in typical conventional market arrangements. For producers, the value of Fairtrade is not about the relationship of their selling price to that of the finished product, but to their costs of production and the conventional market price. There are also many complex and variable factors to take into account in comparing different elements of the final price paid by consumers which can be misleading. For example, the price received by a cocoa or coffee producer selling to the conventional market depends on many factors including: - fluctuating international market prices - the producer ‘cut’ from a chocolate bar will vary according to the international price of cocoa at the time of sale and the percentage cocoa content of the bar - whether the producer is an independent smallholder or a plantation worker - whether the smallholder/co-operative/plantation carries out processing or other value-added operations - whether a smallholder sells directly to a local buyer or is a member of a co-operative - whether the co-operative sells to local traders or to auction, or exports the product on behalf of its members - local trading conditions – these can vary greatly within a country let alone within different continents e.g. whether the industry has been liberalised or is state-regulated - the varying costs of production from country to country Once the primary product is sold to a certified Fairtrade importer, the costs are similar to those for a conventional product – transport and export costs; shipping and insurance; import licences and taxes; ripening or processing; packing; warehousing and distribution; marketing and promotion and; retailer overheads. The Fairtrade Foundation has no control or influence over commercial costs or margins. And because the major costs of the finished product are incurred after the producer has sold the commodity, the return to the producer will inevitably make up a relatively small percentage of the retail price.

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