Frequently Asked Questions

Why fair trade?

What is fair trade?

Fair trade is a global movement made up of a diverse network of producers, companies, shoppers, advocates, and organizations putting people and planet first.

We at Fair Trade USA® believe that everyone wants to do what’s right – for their families, fellow global citizens, and the planet. That’s why we’re committed to making the right choices the most obvious ones. Based on the simple idea that the products we buy and sell are connected to the livelihoods of others, fair trade is a way to make a conscious choice for a better world. A choice for Fair Trade Certified™ goods is a choice to support responsible companies, empower farmers, workers, and fishermen, and protect the environment. In other words, it’s a world-changing way of doing business.

What does the Fair Trade Certified seal represent?

When you see a product with the Fair Trade Certified™ seal, you can be sure it was made according to rigorous social, environmental, and economic Fair Trade standards, and the farmers, workers, and fishermen behind it earn additional money from your purchase to empower and uplift their communities.

We certify all products bearing the Fair Trade Certified seal to fulfill our mission, which is to cultivate a more equitable model for global trade.

What do the Fair Trade standards require?

All businesses that work with us are held to rigorous fair trade standards, which drive income sustainability, community and individual well-being, empowerment, and environmental stewardship. They include requirements around worker’s rights, fair labor practices, and responsible land management. These standards ensure that goods are made with care to people and planet. For more information, see our standards and how we update and enforce them.

Are Fair Trade Certified products also certified organic?

Not necessarily; although, over half of all Fair Trade Certified products imported into the USA are also organic, and Fair Trade USA does incentivize organic farming by making training and resources available for farmers, and by offering a higher price for organic goods.

What’s your policy on GMOs?

Fair trade standards strictly prohibit use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

Are Fair Trade USA and Fair Trade Certified the same?

Fair Trade Certified™ is the global brand of Fair Trade USA, the nonprofit organization. Look for the Fair Trade Certified seal on products, available worldwide.

Fair Trade Certified products

Who certifies the products I buy with the Fair Trade Certified seal?

Producers selling products with the Fair Trade Certified™ seal may be certified against Fair Trade USA standards or Fairtrade International standards. Fair Trade USA fully recognizes and accepts producers certified against Fairtrade International standards to sell Fair Trade Certified products. Acceptance of Fairtrade International certification encourages all eligible producers to become (or remain) certified under Fairtrade International standards and helps avoid duplicative audits.

How does fair trade create greater transparency for people when they shop?

There are several different variations of the seal indicating what part of the product is Fair Trade Certified. That could be the entire product, an ingredient in the product, or the facility where that product was made. These guidelines are explained in the Multiple Ingredient Product Policy, available with the rest of our standards.

Where can I buy Fair Trade Certified items?

Tens of thousands of Fair Trade Certified products are available online and in stores all across North America. Use our product finder to start shopping.

What kinds of businesses does Fair Trade USA work with?

We partner with businesses of all sizes wanting to take steps to empower individuals, build strong communities, protect the planet, and do business responsibly. This includes small mom and pop coffee roasters, cooperative grocers, large retail chains, global brands and everyone in between. The same rigorous fair trade standards apply to all participating companies and retailers, regardless of their size or business model.

If a company sells Fair Trade Certified products are they a fair trade business?

Actually, Fair Trade USA does not certify companies or businesses. We partner with businesses to certify individual products, facilities, and producer groups.

Are you the only fair trade certifier?

Fair trade is a global movement made up of a diverse network of producers, companies, shoppers, advocates, and organizations working to build a more equitable model of trade. It is not specific to any one organization or certifying body.

What is the difference between Fair Trade USA and other fair trade certifiers?

Fair Trade USA is a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization and the leading certifier of fair trade products in North America. Fair Trade USA is an independent organization and not a member of the international  Fairtrade system.

Fair Trade USA believes that all farmers and workers should have the opportunity to participate in the fair trade system, including workers employed by larger farms and farmers that are not part of organized cooperatives. In addition, Fair Trade USA works with farmers and workers in the Global North, including the US.

Fair trade for business

How can I register my product or business as fair trade?

To begin working with Fair Trade USA, we first ask for some basic information about your business via an online form on our business page.

How do I get my product or brand listed on your site?

To see what a business partnership with Fair Trade USA looks like, please visit our business page. If you are already labeling and selling Fair Trade Certified products and don't see your brand listed in our brand search, reach out to your Fair Trade USA account manager.

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