Fairtrade is a movement seeking better deals and improved “fair” terms of trade for farmers so they can enhance their standards of living and plan for their futures. For producers, Fairtrade ensures that market prices cover the costs of sustainable practices, acceptable working conditions and longer trade relationships.
Though consumers are asked to pay a premium price for products carrying the FAIRTRADE Mark, the additional revenue for producer is then invested to further their economic and social development. The costs of running the Fairtrade system are shared by all stakeholders through a fee system.
The Fairtrade Labelling Organization International (FLO), founded in 1997, sets worldwide standards and certification requirements for products carrying the FAIRTRADE Mark.
FLO is made up of two organizations:
- The Multi-stakeholder (FLO-e.V.) develops and reviews standards, helps producers gain and maintain certification, and reinforces producers’ ability to capitalize on market opportunities. It works with local liaison officers who facilitate participation in Fairtrade.
- FLO Certification Ltd (FLO-CERT) ensures that farmers and traders comply with Fairtrade standards and that producers reinvest the benefits. To guarantee that all parties act accordingly, FLO-CERT works with local inspectors to monitor all practices. It has also adopted the Quality Management System ISO 65, a worldwide quality standard assuring the highest credibility for certification organizations.
Like FLO-e.V., National Fairtrade Initiatives (NIs) are non-profit associations and FLO members that promote Fairtrade in their national markets. There are currently over 20 NIs, the majority of which reside in Europe and North America.
In 2003, Dole Europe signed a Memorandum of Understanding with FLO. Following the signing, Dole Peru (COPDEBAN) became a FLO registered exporter, allowing it to buy organic bananas from Fairtrade certified banana groups in the Chira Valley of Peru. The cycle came full-circle when a Dole subsidiary in Europe became a FLO registered importer, thus gaining the opportunity to distribute the Peruvian bananas under the FAIRTRADE Mark.
Today, Dole and its partners have signed agreements with NIs in Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States for the distribution of Fairtrade (conventional and organic) bananas from Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador and Peru, in addition to Fairtrade organic pineapples from Costa Rica.