Organic & Fairtrade – Working Together
Organic vs. Fairtrade – what’s the difference and how can they work together?
Like the Soil Association, the Fairtrade Foundation works to improve food systems through certification, lobbying and public awareness.
Organic standards focus primarily on creating farming standards that work with nature, encouraging practices that improve soil quality, biodiversity and animal welfare to create sustainable, healthy farming that allows land to remain fertile long into the future – in short, producing ‘food as it should be.'
Fairtrade on the other hand, strives to increase pay and improve working conditions for farmers in developing countries. This is largely achieved through the Fair Trade Minimum Price - an assurance that certified brands pay a fair wage for their ingredients, as well as permitting open access to trade unions and granting safety from the threats of forced labour.
“By requiring companies to pay sustainable prices (which must never fall lower than the market price), Fairtrade addresses the injustices of conventional trade, which traditionally discriminates against the poorest, weakest producers.”
The Fairtrade Foundation
Organic & Fairtrade – Working together
The social goals of Fairtrade and the environmental aims of organic aren’t mutually exclusive, there are many crossovers between both types of certification. Care is one 4 key pillars of the organic movement, and as such, Soil Association standards pay close attention to welfare principles throughout supply chains, ensuring farm owners and businesses ‘provide a fair and adequate quality of life, work satisfaction and working environment.’
Likewise, Fairtrade standards bear some similarities to organic, restricting the use of a number of agricultural chemicals, including certain pesticides and herbicides, aiming to reduce the risk of harm to both farmers’ health and their local environment.
Under the Fairtrade Premium scheme, many Fairtrade farmers are in fact able to convert to organic systems, gaining the training required to begin swapping cheap agrochemicals for innovative farming and land management techniques that work with nature, not against it. These changes often prove vital to communities on the front line of climate change, mitigating against the long-term risks of drought and flooding.
“Over 50% of Fairtrade farmers choose to go organic. That’s often because they see organic as a way to improve not just their livelihoods, but to support the environment and ensure that farmers and workers are not exposed to harmful chemicals.”
Emily McCoy, Fairtrade Foundation
So, when you see both the Fairtrade and Soil Association logos on a product, you can be sure that it's met the highest standards of social and environmental welfare. Here’s just a few of the organic businesses offering that also opt for Fairtrade certification of their produce, from coffee to cola.
Divine’s range of organic dark chocolate is produced by CECAQ-11, a co-operative on the ‘Chocolate Island’ of São Tomé, a forested volcanic island near West Africa that was once the biggest cocoa producer in the world.
Comprising of 20 different farming communities, the co-op is both organic and Fairtrade certified – try their turmeric & ginger, or blueberry & popped quinoa bars.
The ‘She Deserves’ theme to this 2019's Fairtrade Fortnight highlighted the often-overlooked gender imbalances within the global food trade, putting women’s voices at the heart of the campaign. One of the earliest members of the Fairtrade network, Equal Exchange, run a ‘Coffee Grown by Women’ range, redistributes wealth directly to female farmers and raises awareness of talented female coffee cooperatives around the world.
Established to help rectify the imbalances in the world’s cola industry, Karma Cola were named ‘The World’s Fairest Trader’ by the Fairtrade Foundation. They work with cola growers in Sierra Leone, and ginger and vanilla farmers in Sri Lanka to produce delicious organic fizzy drinks.
“The Fairtrade system was put in place to protect farmers who were historically exploited by big businesses trading commodities from developing nations. It enables growers to be in control of their own business on their own farms and their own terms."
ETS consistently source their teas from a selection of small-scale producers, like Weerakoon Priyarathna, an organic farmer we met recently in Sri Lanka. Their founder, Suranga Herath describes how "these communities struggle in the face of fluctuating market conditions and a lack of certainty about the future and we think it is up to businesses to do all they can to share value throughout the supply chain.”
Percol have been in the organic and Fairtrade coffee business since 1987, producing the first ground coffee to obtain the Fairtrade mark. Priding themselves on ‘positive drinking,’ they’ve remained at the cutting edge of progressive coffee culture, becoming a carbon neutral and certified organic business, whilst introducing plastic-free packaging.
Certified for over 24 years, Clipper are at the heart of the Fairtrade movement – in fact, they’re the world’s largest Fairtrade tea brand. Many products in their range are certified organic too, including their Decaf and Earl Grey, and a deliciously rich coffee blend from Papua New Guinea.
As well as certifying to organic and Fairtrade standards, Bird & Wild strives to meet a host of sustainability goals – their shade-grown coffee is grown under the rainforest canopy, creating a haven for birds and other wildlife and reducing soil erosion. A portion of their sales is also donated to the RSPB and Smithsonian Migratory Bird Centre.
Café Direct caught up with us to chat about their range of organic and Fair Trade coffees, produced in Africa and Latin America.