Monkey and Son Coffee Company-Organic Coffee Suppliers
what is fair trade?





From crop to cup
TransFair USA is the only independent, third-party certifier of Fair Trade products in the United States. It works with importers and manufacturers in this country to document business practices, providing a reliable consumer guarantee that indicates what coffees, teas and chocolates have been purchased from producers according to international Fair Trade criteria. These criteria are established by Fairtrade Labeling Organizations International (FLO), a consortium of Fair Trade groups in Japan, Canada, the US and 17 European countries. FLO makes annual inspection visits to producer groups on its Fair Trade Register to ensure that the benefits of Fair Trade relationships are reaching the farmers.

TransFair USA monitors manufacturers and importers
TransFair USA tracks each unit of Fair Trade product from producers on the international Fair Trade Register to importers, manufacturers, and distributors in the US. For every unit purchased from a Fair Trade producer group, TransFair USA receives supporting documentation—contracts, bills of lading, and invoices—from licensed importers. These documents demonstrate both that Fair Trade criteria were met and that farmers received the Fair Trade price. The process is detailed and thorough. Every purchase is tracked with a unique identification number to ensure accuracy.

FLO monitors producers
TransFair USA belongs to Fairtrade Labeling Organizations (FLO), an international NGO headquartered in Bonn, Germany. Just as TransFair audits the activities of manufacturers and importers in the US, FLO manages the Fair Trade Register, a list of certified producer cooperatives and associations. The work of TransFair USA and FLO complement each other, so that the chain of custody is tracked from the crop to the cup (or crop to chocolate bar).

The Fair Trade Register lists producers for a variety of Fair Trade products, including coffee, cocoa, tea, honey, bananas, orange juice and sugar.

FLO reviews each cooperative that applies for certification. Only those groups that meet product-specific criteria and are approved by FLO are eligible to sell to Fair Trade markets, including the US market. Applications include an extensive questionnaire detailing membership information and organizational structure.

Once a producer group's written application is approved, a regionally based FLO inspector visits the group to determine whether it meets Fair Trade criteria. Following the monitor's recommendation, a committee makes the final decision to admit the group to the Fair Trade Register. Each year, several new groups are added.

Certified producer groups are re-inspected every year. Any producers found to be in violation of Fair Trade Criteria are removed from the list. FLO inspectors are experienced and sensitive to the complexities of organizational structures. Any decision to admit or expel a cooperative from the register is made by a committee.

In addition to ground-level inspections, FLO inspectors review financial documents and Fair Trade transactions of each producer group. FLO compares producers' Fair Trade sales data with purchase data from importers—provided by TransFair and the 16 other national initiatives. In this way, all Fair Trade transactions are cross-checked for integrity, and any discrepancies are reviewed and investigated. FLO reviews financial records to ensure that the Fair Trade premiums are being paid directly to the farmer.

Finally, FLO interviews members of each producer group to ensure that members are fairly represented—and their voices clearly heard—within the producer groups.


Used with the permission of TransFair USA