What’s the difference between Fairtrade and organic?

With so many certifications out there, it can be hard to understand what different certifications are for, and how they work. 

Importantly to farmers, Fairtrade and organic certifications increase access to the market. In addition, products certified Fairtrade or organic result in the farmers receiving an extra amount – or premium – for their goods. So, products that are certified both Fairtrade and organic are popular with the market, and provide good returns for the producers who farm them. 

However, while there are similarities with Fairtrade and organic goods and the way they are produced,  there are also differences. 

For example, Fairtrade and organic have different aims: 

  • Fairtrade certification supports organisations to govern with integrity, ensure farmers receive a fair price, the environment is protected, and that workers, women and children are represented and respected.  
  • Organic focuses solely on the integrity of the product and the land it is farmed on, aiming to preserve soil health and the environment. 

And, these different aims mean that Fairtrade and organic have different standards requirements or rules that the farmers must adhere to. Some of the key differences include: 

  • Organic has strict standards prohibiting chemical use, whereas Fairtrade allows certain chemicals to be used on certified farms.
  • Organic standards do not cover the following Fairtrade requirements: 
    • Labor Requirements  
    • Development Potential  
    • Democracy, Participation and Transparency  
    • Climate change adaptation and mitigation  
    • Business and Development (including Premium Expenditure and pricing)

By choosing organic, you are contributing to:  

  • Good health and wellbeing  
  • Clean water and sanitation by protecting waterways 
  • Climate action
  • Life below water
  • Life on land  

With Fairtrade, you are ensuring that every stage of the supply chain has been checked for FAIRNESS for children, women and the environment. 

Next time you shop, take a closer look at the labels on your packaging and think about what these really mean for people and the planet. “Fairwashing” and “greenwashing” is easy, but independent, third-party compliance (like what organic and Fairtrade offer) is the real deal. 

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