What is Fair Trade?

Quality Products. Improving Lives. Protecting the Planet.  Fair Trade goods are just that. Fair. 

Fair Trade is a system of exchange that honors producers, communities, consumers, and the environment. It is a model for the global economy rooted in people-to-people connections, justice, and sustainability.


Consumers in search of Fair Trade products have a vast array of products to choose from. Product labels, such as Fair Trade Certified, Fairtrade and Fair for Life, as well as membership in associations like Fair Trade Federation and World Fair Trade Organization, help identify Fair Trade products that are produced according to Fair Trade standards. Looking beyond the label to the trading relationship, consumers can identify Fair Trade standards that meet their values.


A Fair Price for Products
TransFair USA certifies many products from coffee to chocolate to body care to wine.  For Fair Trade Certified™ products, a base price for the commodity is set by the international Fair Trade Labeling Organization. The price attempts to cover the cost of production and a living wage to cover the basics of food, shelter, clothing, education, and medical care. Importers and retailers are then screened and certified by TransFair USA to ensure that they are paying the Fair Trade price for products.
Crafts, apparel and other non-certifiable products are sold by members of the Fair Trade Federation, businesses committed to the principles of Fair Trade. For these crafts, a living wage is paid in the local context.

Investment in People and Communities
Many Fair Trade producer cooperatives and artisan collectives reinvest their revenues into strengthening their businesses and their communities. In addition, for each Fair Trade product sold the cooperative also receives a set amount of money, called the social premium, which is invested in community development projects democratically chosen by the cooperative. Examples of projects funded through Fair Trade include the building of health care clinics and schools, starting scholarship funds, building housing and providing leadership training and women's empowerment programs.

Environmental Sustainability
Fair Trade farmers and artisans respect the natural habitat and are encouraged to engage in sustainable production methods. Farmers implement integrated crop management and avoid the use of toxic agrochemicals for pest management. Nearly 85% of Fair Trade Certified™ coffee is also organic.
Learn more about Fair Trade's environmental standards »

Economic Empowerment of Small Scale Producers
Fair Trade supports small scale producers, those at the bottom of the economic ladder or from marginalized communities, that otherwise do not have access to economic mobility. Fair Trade encourages and supports the cooperative system where each producer owns a portion of the business, has equal say in decisions and enjoys equal returns from the market.

Direct Trade
Fair Trade importers purchase from Fair Trade cooperatives as directly as possible, eliminating unnecessary middlemen and empowering farmers to develop the business capacity necessary to compete in the global marketplace. The certification also secures long-term, stable relationships between producers and importers.

Fair Labor Conditions
Workers are guaranteed freedom of association and safe working conditions. Fair Trade also encourages women's participation in and leadership of cooperatives. Human rights and child labor laws are strictly enforced.