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Fair World Project: FWP Statement Regarding FTUSA's Revised Draft Multiple Ingredient Standards

For related articles and more information, please visit OCA's Fair Trade & Social Justice page.
On January 1st, 2012, Fair Trade USA (FTUSA, formerly TransFair USA) became an independent fair trade certifier and is no longer the US arm of the global fair trade system administered by Fairtrade International (FLO). Fair World Project (FWP) has closely monitored the developing situation of fair trade certifications and certifiers, including FTUSA, FLO and IMO's Fair for Life program.

FWP released a public statement on October 3rd, 2011 to address the FTUSA's resignation from FLO. Pending concerns remain with respect to FTUSA's governance model, operational transparency and plans to grant fair trade certification to coffee plantations. Based upon initial drafts of FTUSA's multiple ingredient product policies, FWP declared on 0ctober 19th that it would not recognize FTUSA as a reputable certifier as of January 1st 2012 unless key provisions in the policy were corrected. In particular, FWP objected to the lowering of the fair trade content threshold to 25% for a product to bear FTUSA's "whole product" seal and 10% for its "ingredients" seal, and the allowance for multiple ingredient products to receive the FTUSA seals by sourcing the minimum 10% or 25% fair trade (FT) content, even if FT forms of remaining ingredients in a product were commercially available. Over 2,000 FT advocates sent letters to FTUSA objecting to this draft policy.

FTUSA released its revised draft Multiple Ingredients Product Policy on January 18. FWP is pleased that FTUSA has incorporated feedback from various stakeholder groups on important issues, especially with respect to raising the whole product seal threshold to "100%" (actually 95% with allowance for non FT minor ingredients similar to the organic program) and ingredients seal to 20%, and reinstating the commercial availability requirement to source FT forms of ingredients in products even if the minimum 20% FT content threshold is reached.  The commercial availability requirement in particular is a crucial market driver to expand markets for fair trade producers.   However, there are a number of critical areas for improvement. 
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