A few months ago Fair Trade USA (formerly Transfair USA) resigned their membership from international Fair Trade labeling organization, Fairtrade International (FLO) due to “[differing] perspectives on how to best achieve a common mission.” Despite Fair Trade USA’s 2011 announcement of it’s intentions to withdraw from FLO, many in the Fair Trade world had hoped reconciliation would be reached before the January 1, 2012 deadline.

There has been much debate and talk around this shake-up in the Fair Trade world with both Fair TradeUSA and FLO elaborating on the reasoning behind the transition.

Since the announcement, there has been a lot of change brewing with both labeling organizations. First, Fair Trade USA revealed its new labels that will appear on Fair Trade USA certified products and revealed their new initiative called “Fair Trade for All” which aims to double its impact by 2015. So, for vendors that choose to remain with Fair Trade USA but under its new certification standards, products that previously carried the ‘Bucket Boy’ label will now carry this new label.

And now, after extensive discussions with various stakeholders in the U.S., Fairtrade International has announced it will be launching new operations in the U.S. and maintaining the certification standards that FLO uses.

Fairtrade International outlined the components behind this launch, which include introducing the international FAIRTRADE Mark in the U.S. market, continued work with stakeholders to design and build an organizational structure that will reflect the needs of members and work to further expand Fair Trade in the U.S. consumer market. During the transition to an operating U.S. office, Fairtrade Canada will administer and monitor the certification and membership of the FAIRTRADE mark in the U.S. (Full disclosure: Global Exchange was at a meeting with Fair Trade advocates convened by FLO two weeks before the announcement was made public and participated in two consultations in the lead up).

According the FLO,

We recognize that there are many different approaches to Fair Trade. The global Fairtrade system will compete respectfully with FTUSA, to ensure that our cumulative efforts will continue to strengthen producers’ position in international trade and improve livelihoods. 

Only time will tell what consumers notice in the immediate and long term with another Fair Trade label in the market and different certification standards. Global Exchange will continue to advocate for Fair Trade through our retail stores and campaigns to make sure that more people are educated about the positive benefits of Fair Trade for the producers, people, and the planet.

Happy Fair Trade Month everyone! After a month on the road, I’m back rounding up the latest Fair Trade news, and boy is there a lot of it!

Photo credit: Fair Trade Resource Network


On September 15, 2011 Fair Trade International (FLO) and Fair Trade USA issued a joint statement about the decision to part ways:

Fairtrade International (FLO) and Fair Trade USA (FTUSA) share a belief in the importance of empowering producers and workers around the world to improve their lives through better terms of trade. However, as we look to the future, we recognize that we have different perspectives on how best to achieve this common mission.

As a consequence, Fair Trade USA has decided to resign its membership of the Fairtrade International (FLO) system effective December 31, 2011.

You can read Fair Trade USA’s statement about why they are leaving FLO here. Also check out the Catholic Relief Services blog post Paul Rice makes the case for Fair Trade for All.

The FTUSA website announced plans to work with Scientific Certification Systems for new standards, and will continue to accept FLO certification for existing standards. Fair Trade USA states on its website, “We have partnered with Scientific Certification Systems, a globally-respected, independent certification agency with more than 25 years of experience, to conduct audits and producer certification against our new standards.

This announcement has spurred much reaction and debate among the international Fair Trade community. Three major producer networks issued statements opposing
FTUSA’s Withdrawal from FLO

In response to the news, Fair Trade Resource Network just announced plans to conduct 3 public webinars  in October and November with panelists from FTUSA and FLO, to discuss what implications the split has for producers and the Fair Trade movement.

The first webinar is described as “A Community Discussion of What Fair Trade USA Leaving Fairtrade International Means for Producers and Fair Trade” and Paul Rice, CEO of Fair Trade USA is confirmed as a panelist. To sign up for this webinar go here.


Reverse-Trick-or-Treating is a way for kids on Halloween to help end the exploitation of children in the cocoa industry and raise awareness of Fair Trade.

Trick-or-Treaters hand Fair Trade chocolate back to adults, with informational cards attached, to explain the problems of the cocoa industry and how Fair Trade presents a solution.

How you can get involved:  Order your Reverse Trick-or-Treat kit. (Deadline to order your kit is by October 13th.) Each kit contains 15 mini chocolates, informational cards and an instruction leaflet. The kits are free, you pay just $7.50 for shipping, but we are asking participants to round up if they are able, to help cover costs.

If you don’t manage to get one of the kits, you can still take part! Download free flyers and pass them out on Halloween. If you are part of a group, school or organization and want to purchase a group kit, please visit Equal Exchange.

October brings cooler weather, spooky festivities, and Fair Trade! Now in its 8th year, Fair Trade month is a time for folks to take action and get involved in this socially responsible movement. This year’s theme is “Every Purchase Matters.”

Fair Trade USA describes Fair Trade month:

Throughout the month, conscious consumers and ethically-minded brands will unite to celebrate and promote Fair Trade. A variety of education events, in-store sampling programs and online initiatives have been planned to help increase awareness and sales of Fair Trade Certified products, ultimately leading to greater impact for farmers and workers in developing countries.

Here’s a list of top ten ways to get involved in Fair Trade month.

My faves Ben & Jerry are back at it. Once again, they brought Fair Trade into the mainstream spotlight by guest appearing on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. Some may a recall an earlier Jimmy Fallon visit by this dynamic duo back in March when they released their new Fair Trade ice-cream flavor.

Here’s Ben & Jerry on Jimmy Fallon earlier this week:



It was announced recently that the Fairtrade Labelling Organizations International (FLO) and the Alliance for Responsible Mining (ARM) have created a fair trade certification for gold.  The goal of this certification is to develop a system that ensures that small-scale miners can earn a better price for their gold, which in turn will contribute to increased social, environmental and economic development in the communities where these mines exist.   Additionally, the certification will give miners increased access to markets, and allow them to improve the technology and working conditions at their mining sites.

Over 100 million people worldwide depend on artisanal and small-scale mining.  Many of these people are mired in unfair supply chains, and have great difficulty getting a fair price for the gold they mine.

Businesses can become certified to use the FAIRTRADE and FAIRMINED marks on certified gold products such as jewelry, commemorative coins, ingots, medals, trophies and religious artifacts.

FLO is the organization that coordinates Fair trade labeling at an international level.  A key part of FLO’s role is to develop and review the Fair trade standards.  FLO also helps producers to gain fair trade certification and develop market opportunities.

For more information on this historic news, please visit the Fairtrade Labelling Organizations International (FLO) at www.fairtrade.net.