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Fairtrade Label - International Sustainability Standard

Posted by Bertrand Duteil on 10/11/2016

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As the demand for sustainable products keeps increasing on the consumer side and the need for a transparent supply chain management gets more and more important on the manufacturing side, producing companies have to adapt and find new ways to satisfy those two requirements. One way to comply with those is to get your quality and sustainability management certified.

One of the largest international sustainability standard is the Fairtrade label. This label helps customers identify fair traded products - especially in the food and the textile industries.This standard covers social, ecological and economical aspects and focuses on topics such as fair wages, safety at work or having a sustainable production on emerging markets.


The Fairtrade Labelling Organizations International (FLO), also known as the Fairtrade International, was founded in 1997 in Bonn. The organisation develops its own standards and delivers its label to fair traded products. The umbrella association gathers 37 members, 26 of them being individual national Fairtrade initiatives (NFO), three producer networks and eight Fairtrade marketing organisations.

The producer networks constitute an association of regional producers groups acting for the interests of small farms and their workers. Overall, there are 1226 producer organisations in 74 countries.

Fairtrade Standards

There are different Fairtrade standards existing to individually cover different sectors. Those sectors are the following:

  • Agricultural cooperative
  • Plantations
  • Contract farming
  • Products
  • Retailer
  • Climate
  • Textile

At the heart of each standard, the core requirements remain the same:

  • Sustainable cultivation to fight against climate change
  • Gender equality
  • Fight against child labor
  • Improvement of work rights and conditions for plantation workers
  • Stabilization of prices for small farmers

The goals of the Fairtrade standard are sustainability, fair work conditions and stable prices for small farmers and plantation workers all around the world.

Fairtrade label

The labels do not only recognize fair purchased products, but also transparent and traceable production processes and supply chains. In its classical format, the Fairtrade label differentiates finished products from raw materials with specific labels such as the cotton label, gold label or the textile label. At the core of those labels are a fair production and manufacture conditions for each product and raw material.

In addition to the classic labels, several others program labels exist for manufacturers buying raw material such as cacao, cotton or sugar. These labels are made for companies choosing to purchase fair raw material in order to keep small farmers stabile and fair prices. Nevertheless, this choice needs to be consistent. For example, a textile company buying cotton for a fair price can only get a Fairtrade label if 100% of the raw materials used for the complete collection has been bought fair.


Every Fairtrade label are first issued after a control of the company operated by an independent inspection body. The most important Fairtrade inspection body is the FLO-cert operating sustainability certification since 2003 in more than 115 countries. The first step for the certification will be a control and certification of the producing organisation, before checking and visiting a sample of farms directly.

The FLO-cert was originally created by the FLO - Fairtrade Labelling Organizations International. The FLO is ISO 17065-Standard certified, offering an independent and transparent certification body.

Further information

  • Development and revision of standards according to the ISEAI guidelines.
  • Here you can compare the Fairtrade standard with 200 other sustainability standards.


Do you have to handle a lot of different organic certificates, supplier or product documents? We want to support you with our easy-to-use and efficient SRM application. Schedule now an online presentation and learn more about ecratum and its features:

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Tags: Insider, document types