Chapter 18: Fairtrade International and the European market
As Raynolds and Greenfield describe in their chapter, Fairtrade International has experienced many changes since its origins. In 1988 the eponymous Dutch non-profit organization Max Havelaar created the first fair trade label with the explicit objective to increase producers’ opportunities while mainstreaming fair trade products. Given its success, sister organizations were created in other European countries as well as in the United States. In 1997 the then 17 existing labels grouped themselves into an international foundation based in Bonn, Germany, and called it Fairtrade Labelling Organizations International (FLO, eventually renamed Fairtrade International). Although each national organization first kept its prerogatives (definition of fair trade standards, controls and support to producers), the structure and the governance of the Fairtrade system evolved rapidly, following two main trends. First, a harmonization of Fairtrade principles to create a standardized Fairtrade Certification mark (owned by Fairtrade International). Second, a ‘certification revolution’ (see Bradley Wilson and Tad Mutersbaugh’s chapter in this volume): since 2003, the application of Fairtrade standards is checked by FLO-Cert, a for-profit third-party certification body created for this purpose and still the only one accredited by Fairtrade International. The last change in the Fairtrade system was the recent split between Fairtrade International and Fair Trade USA. The two organizations appear to disagree on the question of contract farming and certifications of large plantations (for more details, see Laura Raynolds and Nicholas Greenfield’s chapter in this volume).
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