FAIR TRADE CERTIFICATION
FAIR TRADE CERTIFICATION
From crop to cup
TransFair USA is the only independent, third-party certifier
of Fair Trade products in the United States. It works with
importers and manufacturers in this country to document
business practices, providing a reliable consumer guarantee
that indicates what coffees, teas and chocolates have been
purchased from producers according to international Fair
Trade criteria. These criteria are established by Fairtrade
Labeling Organizations International (FLO), a consortium
of Fair Trade groups in Japan, Canada, the US and 17 European
countries. FLO makes annual inspection visits to producer
groups on its Fair Trade Register to ensure that the benefits
of Fair Trade relationships are reaching the farmers.
TransFair USA monitors manufacturers and importers
TransFair USA tracks each unit of Fair Trade product from
producers on the international Fair Trade Register to importers,
manufacturers, and distributors in the US. For every unit
purchased from a Fair Trade producer group, TransFair USA
receives supporting documentation—contracts, bills
of lading, and invoices—from licensed importers. These
documents demonstrate both that Fair Trade criteria were
met and that farmers received the Fair Trade price. The
process is detailed and thorough. Every purchase is tracked
with a unique identification number to ensure accuracy.
FLO monitors producers
TransFair USA belongs to Fairtrade Labeling Organizations
(FLO), an international NGO headquartered in Bonn, Germany.
Just as TransFair audits the activities of manufacturers
and importers in the US, FLO manages the Fair Trade Register,
a list of certified producer cooperatives and associations.
The work of TransFair USA and FLO complement each other,
so that the chain of custody is tracked from the crop to
the cup (or crop to chocolate bar).
The Fair Trade Register lists producers for a variety of
Fair Trade products, including coffee, cocoa, tea, honey,
bananas, orange juice and sugar.
FLO reviews each cooperative that applies for certification.
Only those groups that meet product-specific criteria and
are approved by FLO are eligible to sell to Fair Trade markets,
including the US market. Applications include an extensive
questionnaire detailing membership information and organizational
Once a producer group's written application is approved,
a regionally based FLO inspector visits the group to determine
whether it meets Fair Trade criteria. Following the monitor's
recommendation, a committee makes the final decision to admit
the group to the Fair Trade Register. Each year, several new
groups are added.
Certified producer groups are re-inspected every year. Any
producers found to be in violation of Fair Trade Criteria
are removed from the list. FLO inspectors are experienced
and sensitive to the complexities of organizational structures.
Any decision to admit or expel a cooperative from the register
is made by a committee.
In addition to ground-level inspections, FLO inspectors review
financial documents and Fair Trade transactions of each producer
group. FLO compares producers' Fair Trade sales data with
purchase data from importers—provided by TransFair and
the 16 other national initiatives. In this way, all Fair Trade
transactions are cross-checked for integrity, and any discrepancies
are reviewed and investigated. FLO reviews financial records
to ensure that the Fair Trade premiums are being paid directly
to the farmer.
Finally, FLO interviews members of each producer group to
ensure that members are fairly represented—and their
voices clearly heard—within the producer groups.
Used with the permission of TransFair