Fair trade is the definition given to all those commercial initiatives promoted by charities, foundations, development agencies and international organizations to support farmers and producers in developing countries by paying their goods with adequate prices to ensure them adequate standards of living. A number of products like coffee, sugar, tea, cotton, wine, bananas, chocolate and timber sold in western stores are directly imported or derived from commodities produced mainly in developing countries. Goods that are produced and sold in connection with these initiatives usually carry a fair-trade label.
Consumers, through the media, are becoming more and more sensitive to environmental or ethical issues, but they are often too lazy, too cash-strapped or too short of time to turn belief into action. Therefore they are looking to manufacturers, retailers and brands to do the good work for them. They are effectively paying companies to be good on their behalf by buying their products or services (ethical consumerism). A brand’s corporate social responsibility or a product’s ethical origins can act as a differentiator or even a deal breaker.
Given a choice consumers will increasingly opt for the ethical or moral brand, and in some cases they will pay more money for these qualities. Consumers are also making informed choices in this regard and scrutinising the credentials of companies. Ethical and moral brand qualities are fast becoming expectations as consumers look for companies to be charitable, ethical or environmentally responsible at both local and global levels. (information excerpt from Mintel)
Fairtrade International (FLO) is a non-profit, multi-stakeholder association involving 25 member and associate member organizations (labelling initiatives and producer networks), traders and external experts. The organization develops and reviews fair trade standards, assists producers in gaining and maintaining fair trade certification and capitalizing on market opportunities (wikipedia).
The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) promotes environmentally appropriate, socially beneficial, and economically viable management of the world's forests. Environmentally Appropriate Environmentally appropriate forest management ensures that the harvest of timber and non-timber products maintains the forest's biodiversity, productivity, and ecological processes. Socially Beneficial Socially beneficial forest management helps both local people and society at large to enjoy long term benefits and also provides strong incentives to local people to sustain the forest resources and adhere to long-term management plans. Economically Viable Economically viable forest management means that forest operations are structured and managed so as to be sufficiently profitable, without generating financial profit at the expense of the forest resource, the ecosystem, or affected communities. The tension between the need to generate adequate financial returns and the principles of responsible forest operations can be reduced through efforts to market the full range of forest products and services for their best value.
The World Fair Trade Organization (WFTO) is a global network of organisations representing the Fair Trade supply chain. Membership in WFTO provides Fair Trade organisations with credibility and identity by way of an international guarantee system, a place of learning where members connect with like-minded people from around the world, tools and training to increase market access, and a common voice that speaks out for Fair Trade and trade justice - and is heard. WFTO is the home of fair traders: producers, marketers, exporters, importers, wholesalers and retailers that demonstrate 100% commitment to Fair Trade and apply the 10 WFTO Principles of Fair Trade to their supply chain. The works and achievements of its members make WFTO a global authority on Fair Trade and a guardian of Fair Trade values and principles. WFTO’s route to equity in trade is through the integrated supply chain. Practices used across the supply chain are checked against the WFTO Fair Trade Standard, a set of compliance criteria based on the 10 Fair Trade Principles and on International Labour Organisation (ILO) conventions. The WFTO operates in over 70 countries across 5 regions (Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America, and North America and the Pacific Rim) with elected global and regional boards.