Frequently asked questions
We’ve trawled through all the questions we often receive and have compiled some useful information to get you started.
Where can I buy Fairtrade products?
See our Product Finder. You can buy Fairtrade products in supermarkets, independent shops, cafés, restaurants, through catering suppliers and wholesales, as well as online.
Is there a difference between Fairtrade and Fair Trade?
Yes, there is. We know it can be confusing!
Fair Trade refers to the broad movement of people and organisations working to make trade fair by offering an alternative model of doing business. It includes labelled and unlabelled goods and the work of Alternative Trade Organizations, Fair Trade federations and other networks.
Fairtrade describes the certification and labelling system governed by Fairtrade International and its members. Fairtrade certified products carry the Fairtrade Mark, one of the world’s most recognised ethical labels. Fairtrade International and the global Fairtrade network are leading players in the global Fair Trade movement.
Read our Fairtrade vs Fair Trade blog for more.
What is the Minimum Price?
For most Fairtrade goods there is a Fairtrade Minimum Price which is set to cover the cost of sustainable production for that product in that region. If the market price for that product is higher than our minimum price, then farmers and workers should receive this higher market price.
What is the Premium?
Over and above the Fairtrade Minimum Price or market selling price, the Fairtrade Premium is an additional sum of money which goes into a communal fund for farmers and workers to use to improve their community, economic and environmental conditions. As members of producer organisations, farmers and workers democratically determine what is most important to them; whether this is education or healthcare for their children, improving their business or building vital infrastructure such as roads and bridges for their community.
What are the different Fairtrade Marks?
The Fairtrade system offers several programs to ensure farmers are able to sell as much of their product as possible. Below you will see the range Fairtrade Marks:
The standard Fairtrade Mark on the left is one of the most trusted certification marks. It signifies that ‘All that can be Fairtrade, is Fairtrade’ in the product. This applies to both single-ingredient products like coffee, but also to composite products like chocolate.
Gold and Cotton both have their own Marks.
The Fairtrade Sourced Ingredient (FSI) Mark can be used on composite products when only one or two ingredients are Fairtrade. For example, Fairtrade tea in an iced tea drink. Or, Fairtrade cocoa in a biscuit. The FSI Mark was introduced to open up new markets for Fairtrade farmers and provide more opportunities for businesses to use the trusted Fairtrade label on their products.
How are Fairtrade products sourced?
The majority of Fairtrade products, including all Fairtrade coffee, bananas and cotton, are fully traceable – meaning they are kept separate from non-Fairtrade products from the field to the Fairtrade labelled product on the store shelf. But there are some products where this is difficult to achieve, and can actually be detrimental to farmers. Let us explain.
Tracking products along every stage of the supply chain can be difficult and costly. In Fairtrade, there are four products – cocoa, tea, sugar and fruit juices – where this is extremely difficult and can limit sales for farmers. These products are routinely mixed or go through complex manufacturing processes in local mills, factories or at the point of shipping.
Fairtrade and many other certifiers operate a traceability programme type known as ‘mass balance’ to ensure farmers and workers have maximum opportunities to sell their certified crops. Under mass balance, companies may mix Fairtrade and non-Fairtrade products during the manufacturing process as long as the actual volumes of sales on Fairtrade terms are tracked and audited through the supply chain. This process ensures that the amount of ingredients in the final Fairtrade labelled product matches the amount sold by the farmers. Given the depth of poverty experienced by many small-scale farmers, and the urgency of their need for better terms of trade, this is a workable solution that has given thousands of farmers the opportunity to benefit from Fairtrade.
You will know that a mass balance ingredient has been used by the appearance of an arrow next to the Fairtrade or FSI Mark.
Why doesn't Fairtrade cover locally grown produce?
The Fairtrade Mark was established specifically to support the most disadvantaged producers in the world, by leveraging trade as a tool to promote sustainable social, environmental and economic development. While we understand that domestic farmers may face some similar issues, ultimately the infrastructure, labour laws, and social security systems of developed countries like Australia and New Zealand negate the need for a labelling organisation such as Fairtrade.
How much of the price we pay for Fairtrade products goes back to the producers?
Whatever the price of the product on the shelf, only the Fairtrade Mark ensures that the producers have received what is agreed as a fairer price, as well as the Fairtrade Premium to invest in the future of their communities and businesses. The Fairtrade Price applies at the point where the producer organisation sells to the next person in the supply chain (usually an exporter or importer). It is not calculated as a proportion of the final retail price, which is negotiated between the product manufacturer and the retailer..
How can my producer group become Fairtrade Certified?
Are Fairtrade Certified products also organic?
Not necessarily. Fairtrade Standards require sustainable farming techniques and require higher prices to be paid for organic products. Moreover, Fairtrade Premiums are often used to train producers in organic and sustainable techniques like composting and using recycled materials, which can help them to convert to organic production in the future.
Who sets the Fairtrade Standards?
The Fairtrade Standards are set by the Standards Unit at Fairtrade International and the minimum prices and premiums for each product are included in the product-specific Standards available on Fairtrade International’s website. The consultative process for agreeing international Fairtrade Standards follows the ISEAL Code of Good Practice for Social and Environmental Labelling, where all stakeholders (including producers) participate in the research process before coming to a final decision. As 50 percent owners of the system, Fairtrade producers are involved in setting the Standards, along with decisions on overall strategy, use of resources and setting prices and premiums.
Can I buy products from Fairtrade?
We certify and license the use of the Fairtrade Mark but do not have our own products. Find Fairtrade products with our Product Finder.
Why are there no Fairtrade bananas in Australia?
There are no Fairtrade bananas in Australia because Australian Federal biosecurity regulations do not allow the importation of fresh bananas. This is to protect Australian banana farms from the risk of infection from diseases such as Panama disease which can wipe out entire plantations.