The evolution of Fair Trade in Germany…

Today our Fair Train takes us to Germany, where the Fair Trade movement can look back on a long history. Soon after Fair Trade had come to Europe in the middle of the 20th century, the first German Fair Trade initiatives came to life. The Fair Trade movement in Germany rose from protest campaigns in the early 1970s against the growing injustice within global trade. In 1970, Christian youth organisations initiated “Hunger Marches” to call attention to the drawbacks of international trade. These marches mobilized 30.000 participants in 70 cities. The initiatives behind them founded the “Action Third World Trade” as a criticism towards official development policies and with the aim of raising political awareness.

In the years following, more and more Fair Trade products were sold in Germany, mainly at markets or in churches. Later, the first world shops were established, which in 1975 founded the “Weltladen Dachverband” – the association for German world shops. Today, there are over 450 world shops registered with the association and several thousand groups active in Fair Trade in Germany.

Almost 50 years later, Fair Trade has expanded widely on the German market and is increasingly recognized by costumers. In 2014, sales of Fair Trade products in Germany exceeded the one billion euro mark for the first time.¹

Our Guaranteed Members from Germany

Our German members show a clear approach of combining the traditional concept of Fair Trade with innovative ideas and better access to the mainstream market. We currently have 17 members from Germany, among which 10 are guaranteed.

Cha Dô

Cha Dô belongs to a worldwide network of tea producers, consultants and distributors. 32 organic tea producer groups with 35,000 small farmers and 8 plantations in India, China, Africa and Vietnam, as well as distributors in Germany, France, England and the USA have formed a system of equal partners that exclusively markets the harvest of these producers worldwide.

This partnership stands for fair prices, high quality tea and outstanding standards for organic tea cultivation. Involving the producers in the marketing process creates a system of maximum transparency for both the customer and the producer.

And Cha Dô does not only value fair and transparent conditions, they are also passionate about their teas! This is why they only sell leaf teas, which unfold the full variety and the uniquely rich and differentiated aromas of the tea. Fancy a cup? Find their leaf teas here.

El Puente

El Puente began with a vision for an alternative trading system and has now become a pioneer of the Fair Trade movement – working with over 140 trading partners in 40 countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America. As a 100 % Fair Trade importer, El Puente has been distributing food and handicrafts since the 1970’s. Their assortment ranges from jewelry and bags, to tableware and decorative pieces, right up to coffee, snacks, spices and more.

El Puente’s work reaches beyond these trading activities, as they are a strong protagonist advocating and educating on the issues of Fair Trade. The company stands out through its inclusive governance and its support to trading partners. One exceptional aim of El Puente’s governance model is to integrate all stakeholders as shareholders. This way, El Puente aims at guaranteeing that all are involved in the strategic decision-making of the company.

You can read more about the company’s innovative and inclusive governance model in our recently published article on El Puente’s Story.

Fair Mail

FairMail is a social enterprise producing Fair Trade photo products. The photos on FairMail products are taken by Indian, Peruvian and Moroccan teenagers. You can find the name and age as well as a picture of the photographer on the back of each card. FairMail offers these young people photography trainings, a medical fund and guidance in shaping their future. The teenagers get 50% of the profits of the sale of their own photos to finance their housing and education.


Chotanagpurgruppe – Faire Handelsgesellschaft mbH’ is a small import organisation, which aims to give support to disadvantaged groups in India and Nepal through Fair Trade. They import leather goods (bags, purses etc.), textiles (tablecloths, cotton bags), stationery and jewelry.

“Solidarity with disadvantaged people by provision of labour” – In line with this motto, Chotanagpurgruppe started their activities in 1978, initiated by a group of weavers in Chotanagpur, a region in the North-East of India. Today they have a good relationship with nine partners in India and one partner in Nepal; four of them are organisations providing work for disabled people and two of them are village cooperatives.

GEPA – The Fair Trade Company

Founded in 1975, GEPA – The Fair Trade Company also belongs to the pioneers of Fair Trade Germany. Since then, GEPA has developed to become Europe’s biggest Fair Trade company with an annual turnover of around 72 million EUR (Annual Report 2017). They buy from about 160 trading partners and offer their products for sale in world shops (their traditional sales channel), supermarkets and health food stores, canteens and cafés as well as their own online shop. It was GEPA who sold the first Fair Trade and organic coffee and tea in the 1980ies. Today their product range covers food – mostly organic – and about 1,000 non-food articles such as wickerwork, household textiles, toys, ceramics, seasonal articles and more.

In 2011 GEPA launched the first chocolates with Fair Trade milk from Germany. With Fair Trade ingredients from Northern countries they want to raise awareness about the negative impact of globalization and promote Fair Trade relationships within Europe.

Fair Band

In 2013, Fair Band was founded as a nationwide association of 17 companies all active in the field of Fair Trade. Nowadays, over 40 small and medium importers and distributors from Germany cooperate under the roof of Fair Band. Their vision is a movement to a solidary, humane and sustainable economic system allowing all people in this one world to lead a life in dignity.

Forum Fairer Handel

Forum Fairer Handel is the umbrella association of Fair Trade in Germany. Its objective is to sharpen the profile of Fair Trade, raise demands towards politics and commerce, and to achieve a wider dissemination of Fair Trade. Forum Fairer Handel understands itself as the political voice of the German Fair Trade movement and advocates for fair frameworks in trade and agriculture worldwide. It works in the areas of public relations, awareness raising, campaigning and advocacy.

Once a year, Forum Fairer Handel, together with its cooperation partners, organises the German Fair Trade Fortnight “Faire Woche”, the biggest activity week of Fair Trade in Germany. In 2019, the Fair Week will take place from 13 to 27 September and focus on the topic “Gender justice”. Under the motto “Equal Opportunities through Fair Trade”, the Fair Week will show how women and girls can contribute to sustainable development, what challenges they face and what approaches Fair Trade pursues to promote the human right of gender justice. If you are based in Germany and would like to take part in the Fair Week, click here.

WeltPartner eG

What started as „dwp – third world partner“ is now facing the challenges of the one global world. This is also reflected in a new name: “WeltPartner”, meaning world partners. Since 1988, WeltPartner stands up for a Fair Trade approach that exceeds the idea of “just” paying a fair wage. They advocate for fair global trade structures, for the support of small farmer families, for ecological standards as well as social responsibility in Germany.  WeltPartner distributes around 1,000 handicraft products and 500 different food products, among which 92% are of organic quality.

GLOBO Fair Trade Partner GmbH

Since 1973, GLOBO supports its trading partners who are mostly small or family-run businesses, by buying their products on a Fair Trade basis. GLOBO has been continuously introducing new products which ensure both stable sales for the businesses in the countries of origin and quality work for their customers. Closely linked to the trade with products is their cooperation with their partners on a project level. Those Fair Trade Organisations that GLOBO works with not only offer their employees secure jobs and fair wages, but also subsidise the education of their children, organise visits to doctors for staff and inhabitants of marginal communities, promote literacy in their communities, organise environmental action days and much more. This work is financed partly by the trading activities and partly by donations, which are generated through GLOBO’s non-for-profit project association, GLOBO Projekt e.V.

Weltladen-Dachverband e.V.

Weltladen-Dachverband e.V. is the association of German world shops. As already mentioned, it looks back on a long existence, having been founded in 1975. Since then, the association has represented the interests of world shops and action groups at a national and international level and accompanied the world shops through their decade-long evolution. Today Weltladen Dachverband is a registered association with more than 450 members.

The association recently published a report on World Shops and the Chance of Municipal Networking. You can read our recap of the report in English here.

Provisional members from Germany:


1 – Facts & Figures: