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Why buy… Fairtrade? 

Fairtrade is one of the greatest successes of the ethical consumer movement. In recent years it has become a mainstay on supermarket shelves appearing on food products as diverse as wine and bananas. But what exactly is it and why is it so important?

What is it?

Fairtrade is basically a way of helping farmers in developing countries.

Fairtrade certification is awarded to products that match a number of ethical criteria. Those that match the criteria are awarded the fairtrade label which they can use on their packaging. 

Importantly the companies are all independently audited so you can trust that those who gain the label really deserve it and that those working on farms directly benefit.

Four main benefits of Fairtrade

The benefits buying Fairtrade produce can be broken down into 5 areas.

1.  Fairer trade 

Perhaps most importantly Fairtrade offer a minimum price to producers for their produce.

If prices in the global market drop below this level farmers selling to Fairtrade distributors or companies can be sure they still get a fair price for their bananas and won't slip into poverty or make a loss on each box sold.

2. Environment

Within the Fairtrade standards there are a number of criteria that farmers must adhere to which relate to the environment. These include: 

  • To source water sustainably and reduce water use as much as they can over time.
  • To not use any GMOs
  • To minimise the use of potentially hazardous chemical fertilizers and pesticides

3. Workers' rights

The standards also contain criteria on the rights of workers. These include the right to:

  • freedom of association
  • collective bargaining
  • non discrimination

4. Social 

The Fairtrade price paid by consumers also contains a 'premium'. This is an amount of money on top of the price of the product. This 'premium' is used for investment in local projects and infrastructure such as better sanitation, schools and local medical facilities.

How we cover Fairtrade

Because Ethical Consumer consider Fairtrade to be so important in driving change around the world we award an extra mark in our scoring system to products that carry the Fairtrade label. 

Read more about our scoring system.

Fair trade and food

What does ‘fair trade’ mean in the food industry?

We take a look at the world’s leading fair trade label, alternative fair trade standards, and a selection of brands that sell fair trade food.

A quick guide to fair trade and food

Fair trade and fashion

We take a look at the world’s leading fair trade standard, alternative fair trade labels, and a selection of fashion brands selling fair trade clothing.

A quick guide to fair trade and fashion

Highlights from Ethical Markets Report 2022

The market for fair trade products was £1,094m in 2010.

Since then it has doubled, and increased by 4.9% from £1.9bn in 2020 to £2bn in 2021. According to GlobeScan 2021 data, 65% of consumers in the UK say they choose fair trade.

Find out more from the 2022 Ethical Markets Report on how other areas performed by reading the summary.