fair trade certification

Fair Trade Certified Ingredient Logo

Fair Trade USA: The Fair Trade Certification

Scope: Selected Food, Flowers, Cotton, Cosmetic, and Personal Care Ingredients.

Introduction: Fair Trade is a counter-movement to Free Trade economic theory. Fair Trade connects producers and consumers together so that Fair Trade agreements can be met through "arms length bargaining" where a willing seller and a willing buyer agree upon a price that is fair and equitable for both parties. Fair Trade USA, a third-party certifier, states: "The Fair Trade Certification empowers farmers and farm workers to lift themselves out of poverty by investing in their farms and communities, protecting the environment, and developing the business skills necessary to compete in the global marketplace." The Fair Trade movement addresses a wide range of social issues far beyond the price paid to international farmers and producers.


  1. Fair Price: Democratically organized farmer groups receive a guaranteed minimum price. Farmer organizations are also eligible for pre-harvest credit.
  2. Fair Labor Conditions: Workers enjoy freedom of association, safe working conditions, and living wages. Forced child labor is strictly prohibited.
  3. Direct Trade: Importers purchase from farmer groups as directly as possible, eliminating unnecessary middlemen and empowering farmers to develop the business capacity necessary to compete in the global marketplace.
  4. Democratic and transparent organizations: Fair Trade farmers and farm workers democratically decide how to invest Fair Trade revenues in social and business development projects.
  5. Environmental Sustainability: Harmful agrochemicals and GMOs are strictly prohibited in favor of sustainable and healthy farming methods that protect the farmers and the environment.

Basics: The Fair Trade certification ensures that fair labor and wages are upheld throughout the supply chain from grower to consumer. Fair Trade USA is the organization that monitors the manufacturers and distributors in the US while FLO (Fair Trade Labeling Organization) monitors the growers and producers around the world. Cosmetics and personal care products are considered composite products, meaning that they are composed of several processed or semi-processed ingredients, some of which may be certified Fair Trade, and others for which no fair trade standard has been created. Entire composite products may not be certified by Fair Trade USA, however specific ingredients may be certified if they meet all of the Fair Trade criteria. Badger used Fair Trade certified Organic Cocoa Butter, an ingredient associated with many social and economic injustices.

In order to certify a Fair Trade ingredient in a composite product, the following steps must be taken:

  • Companies (Licensees) seeking Fair Trade certification must have a Certification and Licensing
  • Agreement with Fair Trade USA and must apply for certification of each ingredient and/or product in order for the product to be Fair Trade Certified.
  • Licensees apply for certification by submitting a Product Profile Application for each product.
  • All Licensees are required to follow chain of custody rules for Fair Trade certification as is stipulated in the Agreement.

A product must contain at least 20% Fair Trade Certified ingredients (before added water) to qualify to use any Fair Trade Certified seal. Under 20%, the product can still call out the Fair Trade ingredient (e.g. “Fair Trade Certified Cocoa”) on the packaging but the product cannot use the Fair Trade Certified seal.

For more information please visit www.fairtradeusa.org

Fair Trade Towns: Many individuals and towns get involved in the Fair Trade movement. You can get involved and make your town a Fair Trade Town. Learn more about national and local campaigns, events, and news at: www.fairtradetownsusa.org