Our Approach to Fairtrade Credibility

Fairtrade‘s success is built on two important pillars:

  1. the trust consumers have in Fairtrade-certified supply chain actors to meet Fairtrade Standards, and
  2. the positive impact that Fairtrade brings to workers and producers at the start of global supply chains.

At FLOCERT, we are proud to play a crucial role in ensuring the credibility of both these pillars as well as many other key elements.

Fairtrade Standards
Fairtrade Standards, comprising Fairtrade Generic Standards and Fairtrade Product Standards, are requirements that producers and traders must meet in …
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Supply chain
Business entities involved in the supply and purchase of materials, goods or services from raw materials to the final product. In contrast to a chain …
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Fairtrade
Fairtrade refers to all or any part of the activities of Fairtrade International eV, FLOCERT, Fairtrade Producer Networks, National Fairtrade …
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FLOCERT
The independent Fairtrade certification body, offering Fairtrade certification services to customers in more than 120 countries. FLOCERT GmbH, a …
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Workers
Field Workers, artisans or other Workers, including migrant, temporary, seasonal, sub-contracted and permanent Workers, and all other Hired Labour …
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Impact
Any effects arising from an intervention or action. This includes immediate short-term outcomes as well as broader and longer-term effects and …
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A scale with a FLOCERT certificate balancing several principles of impartiality

The world's most trusted ethical label

The Fairtrade Mark is the most visible and trusted ethical label around the world – globally, 71% of people recognise it, and 86% of these people trust it. This is according to the 2023 GlobeScan consumer study, which also found that the top two benefits that shoppers associate with Fairtrade are:

  • workers' rights and decent working conditions (75%), and
  • producers being paid a better price (73%).

FLOCERT is proud to be responsible for ensuring the credibility of Fairtrade’s key elements: making sure that consumers can indeed trust that all organisations participating in Fairtrade comply with its requirements, and that its benefits reach the workers and producers.

How we ensure the credibility of the Fairtrade Mark

To protect Fairtrade’s credibility, we have built a robust state-of-the-art assurance scheme. Based on advanced audit methodology, we use technology and data analysis to prepare for audits or receive notifications of potential non-compliance. By auditing our customers depending on their previous audit results, set-up, size, region and products, we can efficiently allocate our audit resources and focus on the areas of highest risk.

While we consider ourselves a partner for our customers, we may need to double-check sensitive matters in certain cases, especially where there are concrete allegations or we have identified specific risks for a country or product. In these cases, we use Unannounced Audits to obtain an objective picture of the actual level of compliance at a given organisation during a typical working day.

Since we obviously cannot be physically onsite with our customers around the clock, we invite anyone concerned that a certified organisation is violating the Fairtrade Standards to raise an allegation with us. Our WhatsApp channel for allegations provides an easy-to-use whistleblowing mechanism for farmers and workers.

Proven impartiality is another key factor when it comes to establishing trust and credibility in global trade. For this reason, we complement our audit methodology with a system of checks and balances, ensuring that our findings are of the highest quality and strictly impartial. This begins at audit level, where we work with highly trained auditors – paid by us (not our customers), regardless of the outcome of the audit. We also ensure the same auditor is not sent to an organisation more than three times in a row, and use a four-eyes principle when evaluating audit results. Moreover, a dedicated Impartiality Committee monitors that FLOCERT's impartiality is not compromised by commercial, financial, or other pressures.

Unannounced Audit
FLOCERT Audit that takes place without prior announcement in order to assess what is happening at the customer’s site during a …
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Allegation
An accusation made by a third party against a Fairtrade organisation, claiming it has violated the Fairtrade Standards, FLOCERT policies, or other …
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Associate
A Trader Corporate Certification (TCC) certificate holder under one Master Operator.
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Assurance
FLOCERT provides independent and impartial assurance services. This requires the following five components: A three-party relationship – the …
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Auditor
A person qualified to carry out audits on behalf of a certification body. Learn more about the audits carried out by FLOCERT auditors.
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Audit
An evidence-gathering process that aims to assess the compliance of an organisation and/or a product with certain standards. There are three types of …
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Impartiality Committee

From left to right: Antonia Bierwirth; Jutta Goss, FLOCERT; Sreeranga Rajan; Emma Hevlund; Bastian Quattelbaum (not in this picture: Elizabeth Kimani).

FLOCERTs Impartiality Committee strengthens the vital impartiality needed for FLOCERT as the Fairtrade systems' global certifier, given its mandate of objective surveillance of certification decisions. Installing a separate Impartiality Committee next to FLOCERTs Supervisory Board leads to differentiated governance within the company, allowing two fit-for-purpose governance bodies with separate mandates.

The Committee has the following members:

  • Antonia Bierwirth, Spain, representing Civil Society;
  • Bastian Quattelbaum, Germany, representing certification industry expertise;
  • Emma Hevlund, Sweden, representing consumer interests;
  • Elizabeth Kimani, Kenya, representing Fairtrade farmers and workers;
  • Sreeranga Rajan, India, representing Fairtrade companies.

 

Our methods and measures are checked externally through our accreditation against the ISO 17065 standard for product certification bodies. We are audited annually by the German national accreditation body, DAkkS, who check, for example, that we treat all our customers equally and that our audit findings and certification decisions are made independently, based on rigorous evaluation.

Last but not least, we have installed a complaint mechanism for customers who want to challenge a certification decision or who are unhappy with our services. And, if they are not satisfied with the way their complaint, allegation or appeal has been handled, they can contact DAkkS, or Fairtrade International as the standard-setting organisation.

Certification Decision
A Certification Decision is always made on the basis of a previous evaluation of audit results, or assessment of other compliance status-related …
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Accreditation
The formal declaration and recognition by a neutral third party and authoritative body that a certification body and its programme is competent to …
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Certification
Formal procedure of confirmation, by which an authorised person or agency assesses and verifies the attributes, quality, qualification, status of …
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Complaint
A formal expression of dissatisfaction with the quality of services delivered by FLOCERT. A complaint can be registered by any third party or …
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Appeal
An official request by the customer to revoke or reverse a FLOCERT Certification Decision.
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