Fairtrade Labelling Organizations International (FLO) is a non-profit association of 20 member organizations that promote and market fair-trade FLO-labeled products in their countries; it operates in 15 European countries in addition to Australia, New Zealand, the United States, Canada, Mexico and Japan.
FLO standards are produced by the FLO Standard Committee in which stakeholders from the FLO's member organizations, producer organizations, traders and external experts are represented. As stated by the FLO, standards not only ensure socially responsible production and trade, but, according to the policy of the fair-trade initiative they also guarantee a fair price to producers and provide a premium price that producers have to invest in socio-economic and environmental development. Generic standards are available for both producers and traders of fair-trade products.
The so-called Standard Principles are applicable to all producers and highlight the socio-economic and environmental development scope that fair-trade standards aim to address. These Standard Principles are supported through the implementation of the producers' Generic Standards that have been developed for both small farmers' organizations and for hired labour situations. In addition, there are other rules and standards that producers must comply with. These are commodity-specific standards (over 20 sets of standards for both small farmers' organizations and hired labour situations); the scope of countries, which indicates the only countries in which fair-trade certification can be achieved and includes most countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America; a list of prohibited materials; contract production standards for cotton in India and Pakistan and rice in India. A single set of FLO trader standards is also available. Trader standards consist of a few general rules to be followed by traders to ensure fair prices to producers.
All the tasks related to the inspection and certification of producers and distribution are coordinated by FLO-CERT GmbH, which operates independently from other interests.
In 2005, the FLO's certified sales amounted to approximately €1.1 billion worldwide, a 37 percent year-to-year increase, benefiting approximately one million workers and farmers in 58 developing countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America. Although the Generic Standards are theoretically applicable to any food commodities, to date there are no specific standards for the production and trade of aquaculture commodities and, as such, no FLO-certified aquaculture products. Nevertheless, the FLO has declared its intention to develop standards for fair-trade shrimp and fish on several occasions.75
Alter-Trade Japan (ATJ) is a Japanese grassroots trading company established in 1989 through the joint investment of consumers' cooperatives and organic trading organizations and as a consequence of activities conducted by the Japan Committee for Negros Campaign (an NGO). After beginning activities in the Philippines, in 1992 ATJ started the importation of "Eco-shrimp" produced in extensive traditional farms in Indonesia. Activities were expanded further until Alter-Trade Indonesia was established in 2003. Although not strictly a certification scheme, ATJ has been involved in the establishment of fair-trade arrangements, linked also to Naturland organic certification.
The International Fair Trade Association (IFAT) is a non-profit organization that claims to be the global network of fair-trade organizations. Its mission is to improve the livelihoods and well-being of disadvantaged people. IFAT operates through three levels: IFAT membership, an elected executive committee and the IFAT secretariat, which supervises day-to-day activities. In 2004 IFAT launched the FTO Mark, a label that can be used only by organizations complying with the IFAT standards. The FTO Mark is not applicable to individual businesses and cannot be used to label products. However, it can be used on headed paper, Web sites, posters and other promotional material used by the organization. Although primarily focused on fair-trade issues, IFAT standards also promote transparency, accountability, capacity building, gender equity, better working conditions and environmental sustainability. Compliance to the IFAT standards is assessed through a three-step monitoring process that involves a combination of self-assessment, mutual review between trading partners and external verification performed every year on a random number of organizations. More than 150 organizations are registered within IFAT; they deal with the trading of a wide range of commodities. However, it would appear that, so far, none of them trades fisheries products.
The Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI) is an alliance of companies, NGOs and trade union organizations with the target of promoting and improving the implementation of codes of practice that address working conditions throughout the supply chain. The ETI was set up in 1998 in response to concerns on the working conditions adopted by suppliers (typically from developing countries) of goods produced for export.
In this context, the ETI Base Code and the Principle of Implementation were developed. These documents aimed to set the basic philosophy for ETI work and to provide a generic standard for company performance with regard to setting better working conditions. In 2002 a Prawn Working group was set up to implement a project aimed at identifying and developing a strategy to address the social impact of the shrimp farming and fishing industry in India. Following project implementation, the group concluded that ETI members should undertake individual action with their suppliers and partners to address improvement in the working conditions of employees involved with the sector.
75 John Arnold, FLO, personal communication.