What is Fair Trade?

What is Fair Trade?

A dictionary definition is “trade between companies in developed countries and producers in developing countries in which fair prices are paid to the producers”.

In practice it is a lot more than that.  Trading fairly means providing opportunities for the farming and working communities in the poorer nations of our world to help themselves.  It allows them to have more control of their own futures, to enjoy decent working and living conditions and helps to sustain and protect the environment in which they live and work.

Why is Fair Trade important?

Fairly traded products beneficially impact the lives of millions of farmers, artisans and their families, working in over 58 of the world’s poorest countries.  Fair trade has a positive effect in beginning to address the imbalance between the world's richest people in the developed world and the poorest in the emerging economies of the third world.

Fairly traded products provide producers with more resources and importantly control of their own future and developing businesses and at the same time promotes sustainable production practices and respect for nature.

Most importantly, fair trade is not charity - it offers these producers a predictable income allowing true change and development and promoting self sufficiency.

How is Fair Trade implemented?

Trading fairly can involve many different measures:

  • By buying directly from producers, the middlemen are cut out  and a greater proportion of the price paid goes to the producer.
  • Buyers may pay producers in advance, provide reasonable loans to help them through difficulties or provide design advice and guidance on marketing their products.
  • Fair trade companies provide access to international markets.
  • Buying goods at prices that fully cover the cost of production, ensuring good working conditions and wages for the producer and his employees and providing employment security.
  • Defining and promoting certification for producers based on minimum social, environmental and economic standards and continuous improvement.  The World Fair Trade Organisation (WFTO) is a body that certifies a business as a Fair Trade Enterprise, as distinct from a specific product or ingredient.  

Why buy Fair Trade?

Buying fair trade products makes a real difference to people's lives, but the few additional pence on the price we pay will probably not be noticed by most of us in our affluent society.  It helps to build a better future for them, their families and their communities.  We sell a wide range of products from across the world - foodstuffs, recycled paper products and crafts made from many materials.  

Fair trade:

  • respects the hard work of the producer;
  • provides a fair wage for the producer and his employees;
  • is anti-slavery and anti-child labour;
  • supports environmental conservation;
  • empowers minorities.

Buying fair trade versions of products that we need anyway gives every one of us an easy opportunity of making a valuable contribution to improve the way of life for the millions in this world that are less well off than we are. Surely we can afford a few pence more in the knowledge that others will benefit?

The FAIRTRADE Mark on products means that international Fairtrade Standards have been met. Choosing products with this Mark supports marginalised farmers and workers to build a better future for themselves through trade.

For further information visit fairtrade.org.uk


The WTFO accreditation includes an assessment of an enterprise’s structure and business model, its operations and its supply chains and is based upon the 10 principles of Fair Trade