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.

Here’s your weekly roundup of the latest news and updates related to Fair Trade:


BIG NEWS: 1-800-Flowers pledges to begin selling FT flowers

How did this change come about? Change.org sums it up:

Late last week, the largest florist in the world, 1-800-Flowers, responded to 54,000 Change.org members and agreed to begin selling Fair Trade flowers and insist on a strong code of conduct for all their suppliers to counteract the deplorable working conditions that thousands of female flower workers face in South America. They’ve promised to offer Fair Trade flowers in time for Mother’s Day, making 1-800-Flowers a leader in the industry.

CONFERENCE: 2011 Fair Trade Federation Conference: Building UP Fair Trade

When: May 6-8, 2011
Where: Milwaukee, WI
Details: Build UP your business knowledge, Build UP momentum for Fair Trade, and Build UP our community!
The conference will include: practical training on the business of Fair Trade combined with opportunities for networking, community building, and discussion of key issues facing the broader movement.
More details and to register: Fair Trade Federation website
Discount: Save $100 / person if you register before March 11

WEBINAR: “Sustainable Labor: Domestic Farmworker Conditions & the Fair Food Movement”

When: Mar. 8 2011; 10-11:30am PST
Cost: FREE
Register: online
Registration questions? Melissa Schweisguth
General Questions? Ron Strochlic
Developed & Coordinated by: Ron Strochlic, Food Systems Consultant; Former Director, CA Institute for Rural Studies
Hosted by: The Food Trade Sustainability Leadership Association

Webinar Summary:
This webinar will combine clips from “Fair Food: Field to Table,” a brief video documenting the movement for fair food in the United States, with presentations from industry experts. They’ll share three short, compelling and informative video segments highlighting current farmworker conditions, as well as good farm labor conditions and businesses and advocates working for change. Each segment will be followed by a brief presentation and Q& A with experts featured in the video.

Moderator: Ron Strochlic, Food Systems Consultant

  • Gerardo Reyes, Co-Director, Coalition of Immokalee Workers
  • Tim Schultz, VP of Administration, Lundberg Family Farms
  • Richard Mandelbaum, Domestic Fair Trade Association; Agricultural Justice Project; Policy Director, Farmworker Support Committee (Comité de Apoyo a los Trabajadores Agrícolas)
  • Maisie Greenawalt, Vice President, Bon Appetit Management Company

Photo Credit: EverJean/flickrARTICLE TO READ: Chocolate Is Sweet, but Chocolate Policy Would Be Sweeter

If you read the Fair Trade Roundup last week, you know that Bon Appetit, a national restaurant company, recently announced a commitment to introduce Fair Trade Certified chocolate in all of its kitchens. Since then, Helene York, director of strategic initiatives for Bon-Appetit Management Company, wrote the article Chocolate Is Sweet, but Chocolate Policy Would Be Sweeter.

Here’s my favorite part:

I’m proud to share that officially as of today, our chefs at Bon Appetit Management Company are now baking with this (Fair Trade) chocolate—making their brownies, cookies, and novelties like the strawberry-chocolate stilettos shown here. We’re buying in huge, food-service-sized quantities, and, hopefully, growing the market so it will be viable for direct-to-consumer sales in the near future.


The upcoming Fair Trade Resource Network webinar Minimum Fair Trade Content Standards for Multi-ingredient Products will now be joined by Fair Trade USA’s Vice President of Business Development and Marketing, Mary Jo Cook.
Date: February 28
Time: 2:00-2:50pm EST
Investment: $5 bucks
Presenters: Dr. Bronner’s CEO, David Bronner; Fair Trade USA’s VP of Business Development and Marketing, Mary Jo Cook ; Ben & Jerry’s Director of Social Mission, Rob Michalak
Register Here.

Check back each week right here on our Fair Trade blog for more Fair Trade News Round-Ups…your one-stop shop for current Fair Trade news and events. And if you’ve got big Fair Trade news to share, email me!

What started as a once-in-a while blog post is now a weekly series. There’s lots going on in the Fair Trade movement, so look to our weekly Round Ups for current updates. Each Round Up will feature two sections: Fair Trade Movement News and Global Exchange Fair Trade News.


Photo credit: Fast Company

Restaurant giant Bon Appetit announced a commitment to introduce Cordillera Fair Trade Certified chocolate in all of its kitchens. Fast Company’s Ariel Schwartz reports on this recent development:

Fair Trade Chocolate hit the big time this week as restaurant management giant Bon Appetit announced a commitment to introduce Cordillera Fair Trade Certified chocolate in all of its kitchens beginning on Valentine’s Day. This is a big deal–Bon Appetit provides cafe and catering services to corporations, colleges, and universities in 400 locations throughout 29 states. When the company makes a change in its food sourcing practices, it has a ripple effect. Read the entire article here.

Fair Trade Resource Network Webinars

Fair Trade Webinar 105 Community Discussion of TransFair’s Name Change to Fair Trade USA, and Pending Service Mark Application took place on 2/9/2011. Panelists included Fair Trade USA CEO Paul Rice, Equal Exchange’s Answer Man Rodney North and United Church of Christ Justice and Witness Ministries Minister for Economic Justice, Edie Rassell. If you missed it, you can download the webinar for just $5 or wait until March 30th when it will become available for free on FTRN’s website.

Fair Trade Webinar 106 Minimum Fair Trade Content Standards for Multi-ingredient Products is coming up. Here are the details of this highly anticipated webinar:
Date: February 28
Time: 2:00-2:50pm EST
Investment: just $5!
Details: Minimum Fair Trade Content Standards for Multi-ingredient Products
Presenters: Dr. Bronner’s CEO, David Bronner; Ben & Jerry’s Director of Social Mission, Rob Michalak

World Fair Trade Day 2011 Poster Design

Take Part in World Fair Trade Day
To join in the World Fair Trade Day celebration, the Fair Trade Resource Network is inviting you to host a World Fair Trade Day event during May 1-15 and post your event to their website to help promote it.

Download the free World Fair Trade Day (WFTD) Activities Guide for tips, ideas, and resources, plus order WFTD promotional posters and postcards, and Fair Trade products – most free of charge – all on their website www.FTRN.org.

ILO and Kuapa Kokoo partner to combat child labor in cocoa industry

The International Labour Organization (ILO)  has announced it will partner with Kuapa Kokoo Farmers Union in a two-year project to assist the government of Ghana in reducing child labour. The pilot will run in 15 cocoa-growing communities affiliated with Kuapa Kokoo, the only Fairtrade certified cocoa cooperative in Ghana. The project focuses on preventing and removing children from hazardous work on cocoa farms. This includes livelihood support for vulnerable families and setting up a child labour monitoring system. Learn more here.


Coco-Zen Chocolate Truffles

Fair Trade Chocolate Tasting

Join us this Sunday, February 13th, for a Fair Trade chocolate tasting. San Francisco-based artisan chocolate company Coco-Zen will be providing organic, Fair Trade Certified chocolate to sample this Sunday afternoon. Bring the kids to make Valentines cards, or use our color-your-own Valentines to ask Hershey’s to go fair trade.

When: Sunday, February 13. 1pm-4pm.
Where: Global Exchange Fair Trade Store in Noe Valley (b/t Noe and Castro).
Price: FREE!

Global Exchange Fair Trade Internship
March 7th is the application deadline for summer internships at Global Exchange. So if you’re looking for a Fair Trade summer internship, visit the internship web page for more info and to apply to our Fair Trade department. Global Exchange’s internship program offers great work experience, as well as fun weekly training seminars with dozens of other interns throughout the organization.

Send a Valentine Message to Hershey’s
Make valentines (or print out and color in this pdf) asking the Hershey’s CEO to start sourcing Fair Trade Certified cocoa. Global Exchange will email you a coupon for 10% off your purchase at any Global Exchange store if you scan your valentine and email it to us to be posted online. Deadline to email all valentines is Friday, February 18.  Visit our website for more details.

WIN Fair Trade prizes by telling educators about Fair Trade curriculum

That’s right…you can win Fair Trade prizes just by telling educators about Global Exchange’s Fair Trade curriculum. This information helps teachers teach the issues of child labor in the cocoa industry. Educators can win prizes by teaching the curriculum, too. More info here.

Host a Dark Side of Chocolate Screening during National Week of Action.

I did, which you can read about here. We make it easy for you to show this compelling new documentary about the continued use of child labor and trafficking in the cocoa industry. Order a copy plus a screening toolkit for just $6.

Check back each week right here on our Fair Trade blog for more Fair Trade News Round-Ups…your one-stop shop for current Fair Trade news and events. And if you’ve got big Fair Trade news to share, email me!

A group of businesses, organizations and consumers are accusing TransFair USA of attempting to own the term ‘Fair Trade’.

In October of last year, TransFair USA officially changed their name to Fair Trade USA, thus sparking the debate within the Fair Trade movement about the ramifications of one organization claiming ownership of the term ‘Fair Trade.’ On Monday, the Organic Consumers Association (OCA) sent out a petition urging everyone to tell TransFair USA that “Fair Trade is a movement, not a brand.”

One organization, TransFair USA, is currently in the process of changing its name to “Fair Trade USA” and applied for the name to be trademarked. Such an umbrella phrase attempts to legally claim, as an exclusive brand, a term that encompasses this broad movement far beyond its specific work.
[We] believe that the term [Fair Trade] should be celebrated as a movement, not a brand claimed by any one organization.

In a press release from Fair Trade USA regarding their name change they stated that, “[their] updated, simplified name and brand identity will support the organization’s efforts to increase awareness of Fair Trade among a broader consumer audience, increase sales of Fair Trade Certified™ products, and generate more benefits for farmers and workers around the world.”

Currently, Fair Trade USA works with 800 companies and has certified more than 6,000 products since its founding in 1998. Already a big force in the Fair Trade movement, is their name change a way of claiming ‘Fair Trade’ as an exclusive brand for themselves as OCA contends or will this organizational identity shift benefit the movement as a whole by increasing the name and concept recognition of ‘Fair Trade’ as Fair Trade USA states?

Since the petition was released in early January 2011, the coalition against the rebranding of Fair Trade USA has expanded to include leading Fair Trade organizations and companies such as Fair Trade Federation and Equal Exchange as well as over 8,000 consumers.

Such an overwhelming response has not gone unnoticed by Fair Trade USA as they e-mailed the United Students for Fair Trade listserv in response to the petition:

Regarding our new name, we have, in fact, submitted a service mark application for our new corporate name and logo “Fair Trade USA.” We believe that this is appropriate as the U.S. member of the umbrella organization, Fairtrade International.

We do agree that Fair Trade is a movement, not a brand. Therefore, we will
not attempt to trademark [the] term ‘Fair Trade.’ In fact, no one can trademark a fair use term such as ‘Fair Trade.’ That’s why groups like the Fair Trade Resource Network, Fair Trade Federation, and the Domestic Fair Trade Alliance all have the words “Fair Trade” in their names.

A debate like this is just part of the growing pains that have come with a movement that has greatly expanded in the last few years, and one in which only time and open dialogue will help bring all sides to a working consensus.

However, in the end we should all be able to agree that Fair Trade is a unifying force with the ultimate goal of bringing fairness and justice to the trade table.

Have something to share regarding this debate? Who owns Fair Trade? Is it somebody, nobody, or everybody? Be part of the open dialogue and weigh in on the issue in the comments section below.

The week has been a busy one for the Fair Trade movement. From petitions to conference announcements, here’s your friendly Fair Trade rundown:

Photo Credit: Fair Trade Futures Conference

The Next U.S. Fair Trade Conference Just Announced: The Fair Trade Federation will host a conference in Milwaukee, WI May 6th-8th, 2011 to examine the business of Fair Trade. This is such new news that it’s not even up on the Fair Trade Federation website yet, but I’m guessing it will be soon so check there for updates.

Graphic Credit: Organic Consumers Association

New Petition raises question about ownership of the term “Fair Trade”: Launched earlier this week on Organic Consumers Association’s website, this petition urges TransFairUSA not to change its name to “Fair Trade USA” after TransFair USA applied for the name to be trademarked.

New ArtisanWork online forum topic announced! The new forum will cover Trend Report Interpretation and run from January 20th- February 5th. Expect an overview of Trend reports and learn ways of using that information to more accurately target consumers. ArtisanWork is an information gateway for artisans around the world and the people who work with them to connect, learn, and share information.

The Fair Trade Resource Network wants YOU to design Fair Trade webinars: Following four successful pilot webinars in 2010, FTRN announced plans to expand their webinar program in 2011 and they want you to help choose the topics. There is a brief (2 questions brief!) online survey here where you can choose topics you are (and aren’t) interested in learning about, plus there’s space for you to suggest topics not listed.

So that’s what’s new in the US Fair Trade movement this week. Do you have Fair Trade related news to add? Feel free to share it in the Comments section.

Great News! Today’s LA Times travel section featured Reality Tour’s Fair Harvest journey to Nicaragua.  On behalf of Reality Tours I’d like to say thank you to their staff and editors for covering our alternative and fair trade focused tours.  As you can see in their article ,we are bringing people to understand Nicaragua, its history and people, while creating the opportunity for our partners to share their stories about why fair trade matters. Our Fair Harvesters live with a cooperative member families and work alongside the farmers to harvest coffee, for an alternative “service learning” or voluntourism vacation. The intention behind our Fair Harvest tour is to immerse you into the daily lives of small-scale farming families and enhance your understanding of what Fair Trade means to producers.

In today’s world economy, where profits rule and small-scale producers are left out of the bargaining process, farmers, craft producers, and other workers are often left without resources or hope for their future. Fair Trade helps exploited producers escape from this cycle and gives them a way to maintain their traditional lifestyles with dignity. Fair Trade has helped farmers provide for their families’ basic needs and invest in community development; however, these farmers are still selling most of their crop outside of the Fair Trade system because not enough companies are buying at Fair Trade prices.

Global Exchange has been organizing Fair Trade Campaigns and introducing consumers to Fair Trade products for over twenty years in our Global Exchange stores.  Last year, Reality Tours began a close collaborative partnership with TransFair USA.  We are honored to partner with them and support the incredible work they are doing around the world. Reality Tours has expanded our Fair Harvest series of trips into fair trade communities in the Dominican Republic, Guatemala, India, Israel, Mexico, Nepal,  Nicaragua and Palestine (and can customize them in many other places of course!).  Personally, cultivating my relationship with Transfair USA and engaging with their passionate, intelligent staff I have a profound new appreciation for what certification means. I place great value on the “Fair Trade Certified” label on Fair Trade Products and I know that certification ensures that workers are paid fair wages, are free from abusive labor practices, and use environmentally sustainable methods.

Thanks LA Times for reminding the traveler that we have many travel options. You can travel “Fairly” so put your travel dollars where your values are!

TransFair recently announced an expanded list of Fair Trade Certified products. As you may know, TransFair USA is the only third party Certifier of Fair Trade products in the US. Fair Trade is a label that guarantees to consumers that certain criteria have been met, including a minimum price paid to farmers and environmentally sustainable farming methods were used.

“Since we launched Fair Trade Certified here in the States 10 years ago, we’ve taken a cautious approach, focusing on building distribution and consumer interest in each certified product before launching a new one,” said Paul Rice, chief executive of TransFair USA. “Now, with public awareness of Fair Trade Certified high, the time is right for us to allow U.S. consumers access to more Fair Trade Certified products and extend the benefits of Certification to more farmers.”

Once known for its coffee and chocolate Certification, the list of Certified Fair Trade products in the US has expanded to include some fresh vegetables (including peppers and new potatoes), fruit juices (including apple…yeaah!) and nuts (can you say yum?). To see the complete list of products now being Certified by TransFair USA, check out their website.