Frequently Asked Questions about Fairtrade Certification

Does Fairtrade really make a difference? 

Yes, Fairtrade makes a very real difference. Fairtrade provides real impact and benefits for 1.66 million farmers and workers in 73 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, Africa and the Middle East, and the Asia-Pacific region.

These people received 25 % to 33% of the total revenue from Fairtrade purchases, versus 7% to 15% for the same goods under conventional trade.

These people embraced novel ideas, like the notion that democratic work places, healthy environments, and healthy communities are intrinsic to human dignity and are possible. They entertained notions that their children should be in school, maybe even that their children should expect to live as full participants in a common human journey. The success of Fairtrade entrenches these values.

Do Fairtrade products cost more? 

Yes, Fairtrade products cost, on average, 10% more than conventional products of comparable quality.

This premium doubles or often triples the income that producers in developing countries would receive under conventional trade. Consumers buy Fairtrade products because they care about people in the world’s poorest countries who work hard to produce the goods we enjoy.

Fairtrade products also tend to be specialty and gourmet products. Prices for Fairtrade products reflect differences in economies of scale relative to conventional trade; Shipping, importing and packaging costs are often higher per unit for products traded in relatively low volumes.

Unlike conventional goods, the full social and environmental costs of producing Fairtrade products are found in the price tag.

Does Fairtrade penalize farmers outside of the system? 

Free-market economists complain that Fairtrade benefits only a small number of farmers, penalizing those outside. This is plain wrong. In fact, the evidence suggests that the opposite is true. Research in Bolivia, for example, found that coffee producers outside Fairtrade were able to negotiate higher prices: Fairtrade had become a price setter. Fairtrade farmers also share their knowledge in trading. 

Why does Fairtrade work with large corporations? 

We are working with retailers or big brands like Cadbury’s and Starbucks. Our answer is that only by mainstreaming Fairtrade will we be able to reach more producers. So we are unapologetic in our commitment to scale up. By doing so, moreover, we begin to affect all business behaviour.

Is Fairtrade unable to help the poorest of the poor because of the certification costs? 

While it does cost money to uphold the system’s rigorous certification standards, these costs are split amongst the hundreds or thousands of members that belong to the co-operative. Fairtrade International offers funding for impoverished producers to meet up to 75% of the cost for poorest producers through its Producer Certification Fund. In addition, according to Fairtrade International’s 2008 figures, 60% of Fairtrade individual farmers and workers are, in fact, based in Africa.

How are the standards monitored? 

FLOCERT, an independent organization that conducts rigorous producer audits, ensures that relevant social and environmental standards are met and that producers receive the Fairtrade guaranteed price and premium. FLOCERT is ISO 65 certified, and ISO 65 is the leading, internationally recognized quality norm for bodies operating a product certification system.

What is the Fairtrade Premium?

Beyond a minimum floor price that protects coffee producers from the volatility of world markets, organizations receive an additional sum of money called the Fairtrade premium. This money goes into a communal fund for workers and farmers to use to improve their social, economic and environmental conditions. Smallholder producers, as landowners who choose to join democratically-owned co-operatives, are in the best position to determine how to meet their own needs. As such, these individuals determine how the premium will be spent, investing in, for example, education and healthcare, farm improvements to increase yield and quality, or processing facilities to increase income. In 2009 alone, the Fairtrade system returned €53 Million to producers in Fairtrade premiums.

Is Edmonton the Second or Third Largest City in Canada to have Fair Trade Town Status?

There are different rumours going around about whether Edmonton is the second or third largest city in Edmonton to have Fair Trade Town status. 

Both Vancouver and Toronto are Fair Trade Towns. However, although Vancouver including its greater area population is larger than Edmonton and its surrounding areas. The population of solely Edmonton is larger than solely Vancouver. It is these numbers that have been used to calculate the percentages for the Fair Trade Town requirements.

Edmonton therefore is the second largest Fair Trade Town in Canada.

Can someone come and give a talk to my group? 

Write to us at and we will happily discuss your request with you!

*Information from Fairtrade Manitoba, Fairtrade Foundation and Fairtrade Canada.