It’s Fairtrade fortnight, but what is Fairtrade?

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The Fairtrade logo is widely recognised and we see it regularly on various products including bananas, other fruits, fruit juice, tea, coffee, chocolate and flowers. The Fairtrade Foundation’s standards focus on helping disadvantaged producers in the developing world. These products tend to be those which cannot be bought locally, with the aim to encourage consumers to buy a combination of Fairtrade and UK produced commodities.

It’s Fairtrade fortnight, but what is Fairtrade?

Behind the Fairtrade Standard mark

The Fairtrade mark is found on a range of products sold in the UK; one-third of bananas sold in the UK have the Fairtrade mark. Most consumers know that Fairtrade means fair terms for farmers, but did you know it also covers sustainability?

Protecting local farmers

Fairtrade sets social, economic and environmental standards for companies, farms and workers. It is governed by a general assembly comprising 50% farmers and workers, with the other 50% made up of national Fairtrade organisations.

Certified Fairtrade farms must have fair working conditions and must ban forced and child labour.

The standard also sets minimum prices to cover sustainable production and gives a premium to invest in community projects. The minimum price guarantees that the cost of growing the crop will always be covered, in addition to preventing prices from falling below market price. One co-operative of tea farmers in Kenya have used their premium to assist in the establishment of tree nurseries and provide training to diversify, compost organically, and reduce deforestation.

Encouraging better environmental practices

Certified Fairtrade farms must also meet environmental criteria, for example, waste, soil, and water must be managed responsibly. In addition to this, greenhouse gas emissions, pesticide use, and energy use must be minimized and biodiversity protected. The standards also promote training for farmers. This includes providing advice on switching to environmentally friendly practices, for example by developing nutrient-rich soils that support healthy plants, and encouraging the use of wildlife to help control pests and diseases.

This training, and the subsequent action, has encouraged environmentally sustainable production for Fairtrade producers. In addition to this, Fairtrade run a number of initiatives to support farmers adapt to climate change and mitigate their impact, this includes climate change blogs and carbon reduction plans.

How does the Fairtrade differ from other ethical schemes?

There are other standards which cover a similar range of products and environmental actions; however Fairtrade is currently the only scheme which sets minimum market prices for what growers are selling, plus a premium to invest in community projects.

Fairtrade independently checks that ISO standards have been met and offers two marks: one with a black background for products which contain only Fairtrade products; and one with a white background for products which only source one ingredient which is Fairtrade certified.


How ADAS can help you source responsibly 

ADAS supports many of the principles which govern Fairtrade. The Sustainable Food and Farming team provide a range of services to help businesses connect with their agricultural raw material supply chains to understand key commodity risks, both now and in the future.

Backed up by the breadth of expertise in ADAS, we bring expert knowledge of the drivers of risks such as human rights, environmental damage, farming practices, animal welfare and ethical considerations.

Emily Mason

ADAS helps businesses develop and implement practical risk management strategies based on our specialist knowledge of agricultural supply chains. We believe that effectively managing risk doesn’t need to be costly, and our approach allows prioritisation of action and increases the capacity of suppliers to manage risks.

For more information on how ADAS can help ensure the responsible sourcing of materials, contact Emily Mason on +44 (0)1954 268305 or at


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