Frequently Asked Questions

Below, we have tried to answer the most important and frequently asked questions regarding FLOCERT and our core business, certification. However, if we did not answer your question, don’t hesitate to contact us and ask directly.  Thank you for your interest!

1. Why FLOCERT?

FLOCERT is one of the world's leading social auditing and certification bodies. We verify your company's performance against Fairtrade and multiple other standards. We provide assurance solutions and impact measurements tailored to your company's needs, based on state-of-the-art information services. By choosing FLOCERT you're guaranteed:

  • Efficient service of the highest quality: FLOCERT also provides correct, impartial and highly credible information. We aren't only experts in providing assurance, but gather and deliver information in a lean, service-focused and understandable way. Additionally, FLOCERT is ISO 17065 accredited, accredited since 2007 – the first social certification body to receive this accreditation –which demonstrates that we meet the highest international quality standards. For more information on this accreditation, please check our webpage “quality and appeals”
  • Great customer service:
    One certification body oversees your entire supply chains – worldwide.
    We are a “One-stop-shop”: The full spectrum of services saves you time and money.
    We have fast response times: Inquires are being proceeded as fast as possible – within 48 hours the latest.
  • To work with dedicated, motivated staff: FLOCERT is different – and you directly benefit from it. As a "social business," FLOCERT is mission-driven and dedicated to make trade fairer on a global level. We don't focus on profit but on success – aiming to cover our costs only while providing the resources needed to continuously improve our services and system. We highly value being credible, innovative and human-focused – always. We cherish diversity and treat all of our customers equally.  To learn more about what those terms mean for us and why we consider them to be important, please check our Quality Manual.  
2. I am interested in Fairtrade certification but have doubts about my compliance with the Fairtrade Standards. Does FLOCERT provide any help regarding this matter?

If you have any doubts about your level of compliance, we can carry out pre-assessments, so-called Gap Analysis, which help to identify potential non-conformities with the minimum Fairtrade requirements. We also offer Trainings which can be adapted to your specific situation.

If you'd like to take a first check yourself, you can find more information on the requirements and the application process here. We also offer a checklist of our Compliance Criteria which serves as a very good first indication of where you stand in regards to the Fairtrade Standard.

3. Who does FLOCERT work with?

As the official Fairtrade certifier, FLOCERT works with all producer organizations, hired labor organizations, traders, and manufacturers of agricultural goods or textiles, small-scale mining organizations and multinational brands and retailers within the Fairtrade system.

True to our Fairtrade heritage, FLOCERT provides customized assurance solutions for all types of organizations that are openly committed to sustainability goals. We take up mandates if they focus on improving living conditions of farmers and workers in global supply chains. We check each inquiry against our mission and vision as a social business.

4. What is the difference between Verification and Certification?

At FLOCERT we follow the guidelines of the Standard owners, whose Standard we audit. The term Certification is mostly used for so-called Voluntary Standards (where 3rd Party Certification is implicit)  while Verification is mostly used to audit Private Codes (where besides 3rd Party Verification, 1st and 2nd Party Verification can play a role, depending on the decision of the Code owner).

This means that we:

  • certify those Standards who call themselves Certification Standards (e.g. Fairtrade)
  • verify Private Company Codes or Sector Codes.
5. What is the difference within various standards FLOCERT audits?

Each of the standards and schemes we audit has a specific focus.

Fairtrade:

Fairtrade is one of the world's best-known and most successful standards for improving ethical performance across supply chains. Click here for more information.

EDGE:

EDGE (Economic Dividends for Gender Equality) is the leading global assessment methodology and business certification standard for gender equality. Click here for more information.

SMETA:

SMETA (Sedex Members Ethical Trade Audit) is an audit procedure which is a compilation of good practice in ethical audit technique. Click here for more information.

4C:

The Coffee Assurance Services' (CAS) 4C Code of Conduct serves as a reference code for baseline sustainability practices in the coffee sector. Click here for more information.

UTZ:

UTZ gives you access to a strong network of partners in the coffee and tea sectors. Click here for more information.

6. The roles in the Fairtrade family - who is who?

FLOCERT is the independent certification body auditing and certifying all actors within Fairtrade supply chains. It is owned by Fairtrade International.

Fairtrade International is an umbrella organization for all National Fairtrade Organizations (NFOs). Fairtrade International sets the Fairtrade standards, coordinates activities for the members and owns the Fairtrade Mark. It is owned 50% by the Producer Networks and 50% by the NFOs.

The National Fairtrade Organizations are labelling initiatives for their local markets. An NFO administrates the licensing of products which are sold on their market, i.e. they deal with the permission to use the Fairtrade Mark on a finished consumer-ready product. The labelling initiatives also market and promote Fairtrade towards the end consumer.

The Producer Networks (Fairtrade Africa, the Latin American and Caribbean Network of Fair Trade Small Producers and Workers (CLAC), and the Network of Asia and Pacific Producers (NAPP)) represent and support the producers all over the world.

7. Where can I find a list of other Fairtrade certified companies to get in touch with new business partners for a certain product?

Our Fairtrade Customer Search helps you to find Fairtrade certified organizations, along with information on location, products and their role within the Fairtrade system.

8. We need an out-of-the-box sustainability solution. Can you help us?

You can always contact us so we can assess your specific case.

We also offer Customised Assurance Services :  This means that we can help you tailor-make your own set of standards and best practices. And if you already have your own code of conduct or program, we can help evaluate and develop it, by strengthening the overall scope or adjusting specific criteria to meet corporate social responsibility standards.

9. How does FLOCERT ensure compliance with the standards ?

In order for a company to get Fairtrade certified, FLOCERT performs an on-site audit. At the producer level this includes checking facilities, participating in meetings, and holding confidential interviews with employees. Furthermore, agricultural methods are checked and relevant documents are reviewed. For traders the audit is focused on traceability and Fairtrade transactions. After the audit, a FLOCERT analyst evaluates compliance with the Fairtrade Standards and requests corrective measures if any non-conformities are found. Once all non-conformities are resolved, an official Fairtrade certificate is issued. Read more about the certification process here.

10. How does FLOCERT ensure sustainability ?

FLOCERT drives sustainable business practices by offering assurance services for standards like Fairtrade, EDGE, SMETA, 4C and UTZ. We emphasize and check on responsible and ethical sourcing, on the treatment of workers and the environment.

11. How does FLOCERT ensure the independence of FLOCERT auditors?

The credibility of the Fairtrade Mark is substantiated by FLOCERT being a reliable and independent certification body. The organization holds the ISO 17065 accreditation which ensures autonomous, transparent and independent certification decisions. ISO 17065 is the globally accepted accreditation norm for certification bodies. Additionally, FLOCERT's Quality Management continuously works on improving the system and is a contact point for complaints or reporting allegations. Read up on our quality management policies here.

To ensure auditor competence, quality and credibility, the following rules apply:

  • Independence: Auditors must be fully impartial.
  • Rotation: No auditor is allowed to audit the same organization more than three times.
  • Prohibition: No audit of the same organization for a period of three years.
  • Fees: The auditor fees are solely paid by FLOCERT.
  • Transparency: The audit report is fully documented.
12. How does FLOCERT ensure that producers actually receive their benefits in form of a higher Price and Premium?

FLOCERT has a technical solution in place which the Fairtrade certified companies responsible for paying the Fairtrade Price and Premium use to report their payments. This is also checked during FLOCERT's audits. To do so in an audit, the auditor uses interviews and documents (like contracts, shipping papers, invoices, and bank receipts). To find out more about our audits please click here.

13. Do you have any complaints?

FLOCERT welcomes feedback about our customers' experience. We are committed to provide a credible and transparent service and deal fairly with queries regarding our decisions, the conduct of FLOCERT staff or any of our customers.

If you want to complain about something you can get further information here.

All appeals, review requests, allegations and complaints submitted to FLOCERT are investigated.
They are handled with the utmost confidentiality and we take all precautions to avoid any conflicts of interest in our decision-making. FLOCERT is supervised by the German National Accreditation Body (DAkkS) and the Standard Setting Organization, Fairtrade International. If you feel that your complaint, allegation or appeal was handled inappropriately, please contact either of the above mentioned bodies.

14. What are „Non-Conformities“?

A non-conformity is a non-fulfilment of a specific standard requirement. If an auditor finds a non-conformity the organization is required to propose suitable corrective measures. FLOCERT follows up on these corrective measures to make sure they are fulfilled. Certification is not confirmed or granted until the organization can demonstrate full compliance. Depending on the severity of the observed non-conformity, it can be sanctioned by a suspension or a decertification.

15. What is the cost of Fairtrade Certification?

In alignment with the Fairtrade mission, our certification fees are structured to enable participation and empowerment for all trading partners. Fairtrade Certification costs depend on various factors, but generally on the size of your organization and the role you play in the Fairtrade system.

To see what the fee would be for your specific company, please use our online cost calculator.

16. Why does FLOCERT specialize in social and ethical assurance?

FLOCERT was founded in 2003 to ensure the independence, quality and credibility of the Fairtrade certification system and we remain a mission-driven social business. Our role is to uphold the system's credibility by independently ensuring that Fairtrade Standards are met and maintained. We drive the Fairtrade mission "to connect disadvantaged producers and consumers in order to combat poverty".

17. Does FLOCERT check all steps in a product supply chain?

Yes. Certification is mandatory for every producer and company involved in the supply chain of a Fairtrade product, from its growth or extraction until the product is packaged for consumers. Every farmer, trader, processor and manufacturer must be certified for the end product to carry the Fairtrade Mark. This allows for transparency throughout the product supply chain.