Fair Trade “certification”: Organizations vs. Products
The International Fair Trade Charter recognises two different approaches to Fair Trade: the product certification route (used by FLO) and the integrated supply-chain route (used by WFTO).
- The ‘product certification route’ guarantees fair production and/or distribution conditions of a specific product.
- The ‘integrated supply-chain route’ is a system in which all the actors across the chain (from producers, to exporter/importers, wholesalers, retailers, etc.), are jointly committed to Fair Trade and fair practices.
The World Fair Trade Organization is strongly committed to the ‘integrated supply-chain’ model, in which Fair Trade Organizations (FTO) have Fair Trade at the core of their activities. WFTO-Europe follows and promotes that same approach.
WFTO has an independent verification and monitoring system (the WFTO Guarantee System) that guarantees that its members act according to the 10 Fair Trade Principles as a whole organization. This is a follow-up and improvement on a previous WFTO system, the Sustainable Fair Trade Management System (SFTMS). WFTO members thus represent the whole supply chain from producer to sale and hence respect Fair Trade principles on all levels. This implies that products are imported and/or distributed by organisations that have Fair Trade at the core of their mission and activities, using it as a development tool to support disadvantaged producers and to reduce poverty, and combine their marketing with awareness-raising and campaigning.
The WFTO approach differs from the labelling initiatives in which products complying with international standards are certified indicating that they have been produced, traded, processed and/or packaged in accordance with the specific requirements of those international standards.
While WFTO guarantees organizations’ commitment and behaviour, other schemes tend to certify only products.