IMO offering New Fair Trade and Organic Certification

IMO Control (the Institute for Marketecology) is offering up a new fair trade certification to be blended together with its organic certification called “Fair for Life.” A one-stop Fair Trade and Organic Certification has been proposed by many in the industry in the past. But does this certification system offer up the necessary criteria to ensure the poorest small-scale farmers are protected from the whims of the market? I’m not sure and am looking forward to learning more. At first glance at their webpage – a few red flags pop up. Prices are “negotiated” between buyer and seller rather then set by a third party and it appears they will be working with plantations (although it is not clear if this is true in the case of coffee). Pluses to the certification include, annual audits, adherence to FLO standards (ok, maybe this isn’t a total plus but a start) and no licenses fees for the supply chain. Below is their press release. We’d love to hear your thoughts!

New Fair Trade Certification Available in the US by The Institute for Marketecology (IMO)

November 1, 2007
http://www.prweb.com Press Release Newswire
Fair for LifeResponding to the growing demand for fairly traded products and those produced with socially responsible practices, IMO, one of the most prominent certifiers for organic products and quality management systems in the world, has developed and made available a new standard for Fair Trade certification, called “Fair for Life”. IMO has a strong presence throughout the world, with representatives in over 30 countries, and activities in over 90 countries. From now on a new representative in the US, makes IMO certification more attainable to US companies.

“IMO’s new standard will make Fair Trade certification available for a wide range of products for the first time, and it will open up new market opportunities for these products, as consumer interest in Fair Trade is growing rapidly and showing no sign of slowing down,” says Kerry Hughes, M.Sc., IMO’s new US Representative, also of EthnoPharm, with over a decade of experience in the field of natural products and Fair Trade. Ms. Hughes will be representing IMO at the upcoming Supplyside West conference in Las Vegas, NV, November 6-9 and will be available for meetings for discussing IMO certification. Types of products that the IMO certification may reach include foods, herbs, botanicals, spices, multi-ingredient products, handicrafts, textiles and toys.

For those who miss the conference, or want more information, Kerry Hughes and Florentine Meinshausen, Social & Fair Trade Manager at IMO, will be available to individually introduce the IMO Fair for Life certification, and the steps required to becoming certified. They will also be conducting on-going tele-conferences & webinars, beginning November, 2007. Contact Kerry(at)EthnoPharm.com or florentine.meinshausen(at)imo.ch for more information.

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26 Responses to IMO offering New Fair Trade and Organic Certification

  1. beeractivist says:

    Chris T.,

    Glad you posted this. I was just visiting the guys the own Dr. Bronner’s and they showed me their new labels which contain the IMO fair trade certification. It was the first I’d seen or heard of it. Sounds like an interesting alternative to TransFair USA. I’m looking forward to researching it more and covering it in the book.

    Chris O

  2. jodyonhighergrounds says:

    Chris O and Chris T,
    That fact that Bronner’s is using the ILO certification lends it some credibility in my mind because I know the fellas over there did their homework. Yet, I’m still interested to know more about how this certification will play out in the coffee fields.
    Certification systems were a hot topic at the Cooperative Coffees Annual General Membership meeting held in Matagalpa in September. We heard from over 40 farming co-op represenatitives from throughout Latin America and over 30 roasters in the States.
    The general consensus was that the current TransFair/FLO model only works for the larger, better organized farming co-op (more to come on this). In the case of smaller farming co-ops, the FLO inspection fees often exceed the fair trade premiums.
    We also learned that FLO’s operating budget is funded by producers to the tune of 70%. Yep, inspection fees from farming co-ops comprise 70% of FLO’s operating budget.
    As an ardent fair trade advocate and not-so-enthused TFUSA licensee, I question why the farmers are shouldering so much of the financial burden of the FLO/TFUSA system. Isn’t this system supposed to function to “redistribute the wealth”? Shouldn’t the costs associated with the fair trade certification system lie with the importers, roasters, distributors, retailers and consumers (at least the majority of the costs)?
    Besides this IMO announcement, I know of two other exciting fair trade proposals coming down the pipeline, one from IFAT (International Federation of Alternative Traders) and the other from the ranks of Cooperative Coffees, led by our importing partner Larry Beans. But, for now, we’ll keep you in suspense . .
    Jody

  3. Kerry says:

    Hello,

    I was browsing the internet and found your blog. I am the US Representative for IMO, and I wanted to offer up some more information to help you guys understand more about the key features and benefits of IMO certification. I copy and pasted a sheet that we have that outlines this, but it lost some of its formatting below. Hopefully you can read it. If not, please email me, and I would be happy to send you this document, as well as the standard if you are interested. And a quick answer to one thing that was brought up above about the negotiated premium. We have decided to do it this way, as it is overlooked by the IMO auditor, so that there feels like there is a “fair deal” on both sides. In addition, this premium needs to be decided on so that 100% of the transactions for that product between producer and buyer are then fair trade, which is different from the requirements of other schemes where they can decide to buy fair trade when they want.

    I hope this makes sense.

    Happy Holidays to you all,
    Kerry Hughes
    Kerry@ethnopharm.com

    Introducing the IMO Social & FairTrade Certification System
    In 2006, IMO introduced “Fair for Life”, a brand neutral, third party certification program for Social Accountability and Fairtrade to complement existing Fairtrade certification systems. Existing systems unfortunately exclude many agricultural, manufacturing and trading operations worldwide that practice social responsibility and Fairtrade from independent verification and certification of their performance. Many important commodities from genuine Fairtrade projects in developing countries can presently not be certified under the system adopted by the Fairtrade Labeling Organization (FLO) since FLO has not yet developed the respective product standards. Examples include olive oil from the West Bank and Israel, coconut oil from Asia and Africa, palm oil from Africa, apples from smallscale farmers in remote areas of South America, and most aromatic plants used in cosmetics and nutritional food, just to name a few.
    The IMO Social & Fairtrade Certification Program offers operators of socially responsible projects a solution for objective inspection and certification by a highly qualified external verifier. It combines strict social and Fairtrade standards with adaptability to local conditions. The program is based on several sets of key baseline standards such as the ILO conventions, FLO Fairtrade standards, SA8000, and IFOAM Social Criteria. It offers operators incentives for continuous improvement of social and trade conditions beyond minimum requirements. It also allows for meaningful certification of multi-ingredient products by using content rules that are modeled after those for organic products and by reviewing all critical steps in the value chain.
    IMO is one of the most renowned and experienced international certification bodies for organic, ecologically and socially sound processes and products. IMO has local offices in more than 20 countries and presently certifies operations in more than 70 countries, mostly in developing and emerging countries. IMO is particularly experienced in the training, inspection and certification of agricultural smallholder groups.

    Key Features of the Certification System
    • Choice between certification to “Social Responsibility” standards (covers all relevant labor rights) versus “Social & Fairtrade” standards (which includes all social standards plus additional fair-trade aspects, such as pricing and a Fairtrade premium). While Social Responsibility certification is offered to operations world-wide, the focus of Fairtrade certification is on products from developing and emerging countries.
    • Wide range of certifiable materials and products, including many niche market but nonetheless important raw materials, multi-ingredient products, and wild crafted produce under FairWild Standards (many herbs and medicinal plants). Non-food products, including handicrafts, textiles and toys can also be certified.
    • Any type of smallholder producer organization is certifiable. This includes smallholder cooperatives and small farmers under contract by processors and traders (“contract production“), plantations and processors. Program requirements apply to all critical steps in the value chain to ensure adequate and fair handling at all stages.
    • Audit of the ultimate buyer of Fairtrade materials and products, usually a company in the developed world, for verification of their Fairtrade practices.
    • Buyer & Supplier cooperate closely and negotiate a fair price for all sales – not just a few “Fairtrade” consignments. Farmers always receive a fair and sustainable price for their products that covers, at a minimum, cost of production and a reasonable premium for value added organic production. Additionally a fairtrade premium is paid either directly to the farmers as additional premium or into a premium fund for community projects
    • Transparent system of Fairtrade premium payment and use. The buying company (importer) agrees on a Fairtrade premium with the Fairtrade supplier. It may be paid directly to the farmers and / or used by a fund for community for local development projects, such as. sanitary installations in the village, healthcare, education projects, and lifestock programs to ensure nutritional & ecological balance. IMO audits payment and use of the premium to ensure that this extra premium money is fully paid to the farmers (as premium in addition to fair price) or used for intended social community projects. The buyer may be involved in the decision on how the Fairtrade premium is spent.
    • No license fee is leveraged on participants in the supply chain. Certified entities only incur the actual costs of inspection and certification. For efficiency, Fairtrade inspections may be combined with audits for organic or other ecological standards (organic textiles, FSC, EUREPGAP, bird-friendly, etc.). The IMO “fair for life- Social & Fairtrade Certified by IMO” and “for life- Social Responsibility Certified by IMO” seal may be used on certified products.

    • Certification provides maximum transparency for buyers and consumer through annual audits by qualified inspectors. Each operation will be measured against a list of published criteria. The performance rating of all certified operations are published on the IMO Website, together with an assessment of their social impact in their host communities.

    Social & FairTrade Standard Requirements
    The following text summarizes the standard requirements as applicable to different types of operators and their trading partners. Compliance with these standards is verified during annual audits → For details please refer to the IMO S&FT program. For many typical projects, there will be a hired labor part (processing factory) as well as a Smallholder group part of the inspection.

    Smallholder Producer Groups (associations or contract production)
    • Fair relationship between farmers and buyers/processors. Farmers receive a fair price for their products. The price paid shall allow them at any time to remain in production and cover all basic needs
    • Transparent organization and farmer participation. Farmers can effectively represent their interests towards the contractor or in their own organization.
    • Farmers comply at least with minimum labor standards (wages for casual workers, child labor, treatment of casual labor) and environmental standards.
    • Good working conditions for the farmer group and processing/warehouse staff.
    • A Fairtrade premium is paid by the Fairtrade buyer and responsibly administered. Premium reaches the intended beneficiaries (normally the farmers and their communities). Farmers and other stakeholders (factory workers in processing) have a say in the use of the premium.
    Plantations or Processors/Manufacturers: Hired Labor Standards
    • Core labor rights are respected: no forced labor, no child labor/adequate protection of young workers, freedom of association, no discrimination.
    • Safe working conditions, minimum standards for workers accommodation (if any).
    • Good employment conditions with written contracts, adequate working hours, adequate remuneration & social benefits. Differences between seasonal/casual labor and employed workers are gradually diminished.
    • Fairtrade premium responsibly administered and reaches the intended beneficiaries (normally workers and their communities). Workers have influence on use of premium.

    Differences between IMO Fairtrade and Other Schemes
    IMO’s Fairtrade standards are based on FLO standards and ISEAL recommendations for social standard setting, which incorporates key aspects of the requirements by Rainforest Alliance, SA 8000 and ILO Conventions. IMO’s system is intended to serve as complementary to existing Fairtrade and social certification schemes. It builds on the experiences made with the implementation of these systems while addressing some of the challenges faced by these schemes. A comparison of key provisions of the IMO versus FLO Fairtrade programs follows.
    Comparison between IMO and FLO Fairtrade Systems
    Products Same standard applicable to all kinds of products, food and non-food.
    Type of Smallholders groups IMO certifies smallholders not only if organized in formal co-operatives and associations (as FLO requires) but also when contracted by a commercial buyer or NGO (contract production). Specific rules for contract production ensure that contract growers are treated fairly.
    Because contract production is a common business relationship in developing countries IMO’s Fairtrade rules ensure fair treatment of smallholder contract farmers. Numerous smallholder projects in Asia and Africa that appear to have a strong beneficial social impact for thousands of smallholder farmers are contract production projects because no traditional well-working cooperative structures exist.
    Pricing System The fair price and Fairtrade premium is agreed between supplier and buyer, not set by IMO. It applies to all purchases by a buyer, not only certain Fairtrade consignments. FLO sets specific minimum prices and fixes the premium for each commodity (sometimes even country-specific). Farmers are always guaranteed a minimum farm gate premium price in addition to a Fairtrade premium that may or may not be paid directly to the farmers. If the premium is not paid directly to the farmers it is used for social development projects in the farmers’ communities. The pricing system ensures that farmers get a fair price and that workers as well as farmers can contribute to the social development of their respective communities. Thus the basic aim of the pricing system is the same as FLO’s, but to reach the same goal IMO let’s the trade partners agree on an appropriate price and premium, based on transparent and open negotiations. IMO then checks that the paid prices and premiums are appropriate and fair.
    Fairtrade premium Unlike FLO, IMO does not set a fixed Fairtrade Premium for each material or product. Rather, the trade partners agree on a suitable premium price in due consideration of the aims of Fairtrade and the overall premium price that shall reach the farmers or targeted social group. Typically, IMO Fairtrade premiums are approx. 10% of farm gate prices which is in a similar range a to FLO premiums.
    Fairtrade premium shall reach the targeted social groups, normally farmers and workers. In some settings the main target group can also be e.g. migrating labor in small/medium size farmers or in small processing workshops. It is recommended to focus premium use on the most marginalized target groups in a specific production situation.
    Decision on use of overall Fairtrade premium can be made by a committee (not only farmers assembly/workers assembly, as in FLO) that may also include the Fairtrade buyer and external development experts.
    Certification System IMO Standards and compliance criteria are transparent for companies seeking certification. The IMO certification system requires good overall performance for the first inspection and sets incentives for continuous improvements. FLO requires for first certification only compliance with minimum criteria and over the year operators must show increasing performance in the progress criteria.
    The rating system and qualitative evaluation of social impact and special achievements on IMO’s website allows certified operation to objectively demonstrate exceptionally high performance. FLO only grants a yes/no kind of certification.
    Quality control in smallholder groups Farmer groups must have an Internal Control System (ICS), modeled after that for organic certification, to ensure that the individual farmers actually comply with social as well as applicable environmental standards. FLO does not require an ICS.
    Transparency of performance IMO publishes the performance rating of certified operations on the website for maximum transparency. The buyer knows for what “their” Fairtrade premium is used. In the FLO system, buyers do not know what happens with the premium paid nor with the license fee paid to Transfair.
    Equivalence with other systems For multi-ingredient products, IMO will accept as equivalent and on a case-by-case basis, certification of ingredients by other certification systems that meet criteria as rigorous as IMO’s. This allows meeting content rules for Fairtrade ingredients, even though not all ingredients may be certified by IMO.
    Multi-ingredient products IMO’s program requires that multi-ingredient products contain meaningful proportions of Fairtrade or SR certified ingredients before the entire product can be certified. (Give some typical numbers?)
    Textile Chain of custody requirements For Fairtrade textiles, IMO audits all major labor-intense textile processing steps, and ensures that a Fairtrade premium is also paid for and reaches workers in cloth manufacturing workshops. In contrast, FLO focuses on the production of cotton under Fairtrade conditions.

  4. beeractivist says:

    Jody,

    There seem to be some clear benefits to the IMO scheme:
    + Bundling organic and fair trade certification
    + Certification covers the entire relationship between buyer and producer, not just one contract
    + The certification is available for any product that qualifies – the lack of applicable standards for many products has slowed the potentential growth of FLO, so having a standards that applies to anything could provide the launch pad for rapid growth in fair trade across the marketplace, not just in a limited number of (albeit big) commodities such as coffee
    + certification of plantations – I realize this is controversial, but at least they have attempted to address it.

    Interested to hear if you see downsides.

    Chris O’

  5. Hey Chris,
    I agree, IMO’s scheme (as stated above) has many clear advantages over other systems. IMO appears to be positioning themselves as an all-encompassing certification program, in some cases replacing other systems and in other cases simply complementing them.
    From my experience in the coffee fields, coffee producers don’t need another certification hoop to jump through. If IMO is to be successful, they’ll need to:
    1. offer a more affordable and less bureaucratic certification solution
    2. work with other existing schemes to bundle certs (which may mean sharing revenue with those groups)
    3. be more rigorous and efficient in auditing than any current scheme (for the buyers AND for any plantations/contractors)
    4. create a system that buyers and consumers know and trust

    There is a multitude of groups (FLO/TransFair, RainForest Alliance, Utz Kapeh, Smithsonian, Cafe Practices) that now have their own schemes, each with their own set of fees, guidelines, etc. Cerfication organizations have become vultures, seeking to generate revenue for their own programs at the expense of producers and buyers. Farmers and truly committed buyers (otherwise known as ATOs or 100%ers) are jaded from all the expense, paperwork and self-interest of the certifiers. The lack of cooperation and resource-sharing is reprehensible. The myriad certifiers of the globe would do the farmers and the environment a great service by holing up in a room for a week and creating a plan for moving forward together.

    Yachil Xojobal Chu’lchan, on of our partners in Chiapas has been certified via CertiMex (an IMO partner) since their inception but is considering switching to MayaCert b/c it’s cheaper and less bureaucratic (Chris T has more on this). Oromia, our partner co-op in Ethiopia, showed us their cost per pound cost breakdown when we were there for a visit in January. Starbucks Cafe Practices certification cost Oromia $.05/lb, which they spre d across their entire cost of goods sold, meaning that buyers from Cooperative Coffees helped to pay for Cafe Practices (how generous of us!). At Cooperative Coffees AGM in Nicaragua in September, a farmer from Rio Azul, a small co-op in Guatemala, recounted a story about his experience with FLO/Transfair. He said last year was their co-op’s first year on the FT registry and, as required, called a meeting with the co-op members to determine how they would spend their fair trade social premium which totaled around $2000.00 USA. They excitedly discussed options for their school, water system, etc etc. Two weeks later they received a bill for the FLO cert fees which totaled $2700.00. S,o their premium for participating in the system was less than the fee. Clearly, there are major problems.

    My hope is for a system to develop that distinguishes 100%ers/ATOs in the marketplace. Profit-driven public and private companies in the mainstream will never create enough demand for true systemic change.

    With that, here are a few of my immediate questions/concerns related specifically to IMO:
    +Fee structure – IMO states there is no license fee for producers, only fees associated with inspection and certification. What is the fee structure exactly?
    +IMO will certify a huge roster of products from plantations, overseas contractos, etc. Is one annual audit suffice for monitoring day-to-day labor practices?
    +Will there be a distinction for 100%ers/ATOs who contract all of their products at the very highest standards?
    +Pricing is negotiated by buyer and seller. Even if these negotiations are mandated to be transparent, how will IMO moniter the literally thousands of contracts that are negotiated daily? What systems are in place to ensure a buyer doesn’t take advantage of a sellers?

    Here’s a related article written by Erik Ness for Ecosystem Marketplace:
    http://ecosystemmarketplace.com/pages/article.news.php?component_id=4744&component_version_id=6964&language_id=12

  6. Dr Arun M. Thakare says:

    we are going to produce yarn dyeing shirting product .
    we will be getting yarn from suppliers in India, Will do yarn dyeing , then sizing and weaving fabric from yarn dyed lots. The Grey fabric will be processed from desizing to finishing ,and finished fabric will be sold Globally as fabric for high value shirting.

    We are interested to get Social And Fair trade certification for our Product and for our organisation .

    Please suggest the step for doing above

  7. Kerry Hughes says:

    Hello All,

    I haven’t checked the blog for a little while, so sorry for not responding sooner. I wanted to respond to some of the questions in the last two replies.

    Here we go:

    With that, here are a few of my immediate questions/concerns related specifically to IMO:
    +Fee structure – IMO states there is no license fee for producers, only fees associated with inspection and certification. What is the fee structure exactly?

    The fee structure is fixed, but it is difficult to give a general answer about because fees vary depending on the daily rates of the inspectors in the producer regions, how difficult it is to reach/travel to those regions, and how complicated the operation is. We ask for operations who are intrested in certification to fill out an application form and give as much detail about the size and scope of their operation as possible so that we can revert back witha budget and timeline. Here are some example costs below just to give you an idea:

    Smallholder group with 300 farmers ; combined with organic; plus medium size processing plant/export unit, FT
    Additional costs for FT: app. 1700$ (India) – app. 3000 $ (Africa)

    Medium size factory with medium/large plantation with 200 workers, combined with organic, FT
    Additional costs for FT: app. 2000$ (Bolivia) – app. 2400 $ (Africa)

    Factory 400 workers, only social responsibility, combined with org.
    Additional costs for SR: app. 1700$ (Bolivia, India, Africa) – app. 2600 $ (Chile)

    +IMO will certify a huge roster of products from plantations, overseas contractos, etc. Is one annual audit suffice for monitoring day-to-day labor practices?

    The IMO system does not ab incinio assume that the buyer will try to manipulate the producer in the relationship. What IMO relies on in these negotitions and day-to-day practicies is transparency. In the case of small farmer groups that are scattered, then we will put in place Internal Control Systems (ICS) which have a self-auditing role. If there are suspicions regarding unfair practices, prices, etc., that is noted in the audit results and then a surprise audit inspection may be conducted.

    Also, with plantations, we understand this is a controversial position we are taking, and we are very careful what plantations we are allowing, and we only allow certification of those that really are going above and beyond even just fair labor practices. However, we also see it as a shame if these types of operations aren’t able to be certified, as there are good examples of genuine fairtrade operations out there, and as the fairtrade market grows, it provides opportunity for affecting workers and communties in very positive ways while also meeting market demands.

    +Will there be a distinction for 100%ers/ATOs who contract all of their products at the very highest standards?

    Yes, this is a key feature and I think benefit of the IMO Social & FairTrade certifications. We use a rating approach during the audit that can reflect audit results for operations that are doing more than just meeting the minimum score. Also, as operations are just starting into fairtrade we see this as an incentive for them to develop their programs into more and more beneficial over time. The results of the producers audits are published online at: http://www.fairforlife.net, so this is another part of our transparency that is built into the system.

    +Pricing is negotiated by buyer and seller. Even if these negotiations are mandated to be transparent, how will IMO moniter the literally thousands of contracts that are negotiated daily? What systems are in place to ensure a buyer doesn’t take advantage of a sellers?

    This issue of pricing has often been criticized, particularly in comparison with the (in terms of pricing) more rigid FLO system. Again, the IMO Programme does not ab inicio suppose that the buyer will try to manipulate and undercut the seller. It rather relies on open negotiations between seller and buyer and the development of a trustful relationship between the stakeholders. IMO does not interfere in the development, but assesses the process and the FairTrade relationship through a third party audit. As the books have to be open for inspection during the audit, and both sellers and buyers are audited, the auditor can verify FairTrade prices and Premiums negotiated and paid and can compare it to average market price levels. If a buyer pays only at or below average market price level, this will be reflected in the conditions and certification decision. A price floor and long-term trade relationships are encouraged. One of the key items is the evaluation of the costs of production. A “fair” price should cover the costs of production, incl. a “fair” living condition of the workers (and their families) as well as some saving. An open and transparent cost calcultaion at all levels of the value added chain is the basis of mutual trust and fair trade. It is, however, a very difficult task to achieve and it has to be updated and improved regularly = the importance of an annual audit. From our understanding of the market reality, a fixed minimum producer price is a good approach but not really “fair”, as it does not adequately accomodate the individual situation and the development aspects.

    Now to answer Dr. Arun M. Thakare:
    If you have a complex number of suppliers, I would recommend choosing your suppliers with which you have the best relationships and starting with these in the first couple years. I would recommend contacting me at the email address below (or calling), and I can give you the standard that you can use to check your own organization to see how well you already comply and what control points you need to fulfil in order to comply. IMO also does Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) certificaiton. If you do the two together, you can save some money for combining the audit times.

    If anyone has individual questions (because I dont check this blog –or any other regularly), please feel free to contact me at the nubmers below:

    Very Best Regards,
    Kerry Hughes, M.Sc.
    IMO-US Representative
    kerry@ethnopharm.com
    (707) 644-2354

  8. UDAYAKUMAR says:

    We are in the business of procuring organically cultivated coffee, tea and other spices from very small and marginal estate holders in two souther states of India. Currently looking out for solutions related to export, as well as expand our reach to high profile organized retailers in the world.

    If you find us interesting kindly contact us on agribusiness.uday@gmail.com or 9448093167

  9. Kerry Hughes says:

    Fair for Life – a Successful Fair Trade Certification Program
    Celebrates its Third Anniversary

    September 21, 2009 – Exactly three years ago, in September 2006, a new Social and
    Fair Trade Program was launched by the Swiss Bio-Foundation, in cooperation with the
    Institute for Marketecology (IMO): Fair for Life. It all started with a handful of relatively
    small but dedicated companies and their supply chains, who set off to establish a fair
    trade certification program that would work independent of the traditional FLO / Transfair
    Fairtrade system. This new certification program created an opportunity for all serious
    fair trade producers and products that had not previously been eligible for fair trade
    certification.

    Three years ago – A pioneering effort …
    While hundreds of companies and organizations operated with in-house fair trade
    programs without having them certified by a third party, there was a pioneering effort in
    the fair trade movement to develop a certification system that could open the fast
    growing fair trade market to all types of natural products. It was thought that this
    certification should work for all types of production systems, and push the existing fair
    trade envelope by going beyond what already existed. Hence, the name: Fair for Life.
    From the very beginning, ‘Life’ was in the center of the new program: improving the lives
    and livelihoods of marginalized producers on all continents, in all societies and in all
    industries where such marginalization occurs. But ‘Life’ is no privilege of humans;
    meaningful consideration of the lives of animals and plants as well as their habitats is
    part of the environmental criteria of Fair for Life, as symbolized by the label’s twin leaf.

    … Today – A powerful movement
    “Fair for Life allowed a new view on fair trade by taking a closer look at the supply chains
    of a product, from production to processing, trade and sales”, explains Dr. Rainer Bächi,
    director of IMO. ”While initially this was an experiment undertaken by IMO and the Bio-
    Foundation, the program has since become part of a powerful movement.” Fair for Life
    opened fair trade certification to many new producers and widened the traditional fair
    trade definitions, by providing a stringent standard and certification system that is free of
    political, religious or economic preferences and that has ‘Life’ in its heart.

    Certification by a flexible but stringent and transparent program
    While Fair for Life’s comprehensiveness and flexibility are characteristics well
    appreciated by clients, the program’s rigor and stringency in implementation certainly
    were a challenge for many operators. Although certification from Year One is not an
    easy goal because of Fair for Life’s detailed requirements on social responsibility, health
    and safety, working conditions and fair relationships between partners in the trade chain,
    many producers, traders and buyers worked hard and ultimately succeeded in complying
    with the requirements and obtaining certification.

    “Looking back on three years of program implementation, Fair for Life has contributed to
    improved income and livelihoods of thousands of workers, smallholders, and plantation
    farmers and employees in Africa, Asia, Europe and the Americas”, notes Wolfgang
    Kathe, head of the Social and FairTrade Department at IMO. The http://www.fairforlife.net
    website illustrates the program’s transparency approach: on this website all relevant
    information on certified companies (including performance at the latest audit) and
    products is published.

    Serving as a benchmark
    Fair for Life, however, does not only work within the more or less rigid scope of a
    certification program. It is also being used to verify the performance of larger companies
    with regard to their own social or fair trade principles, policies and related compliance
    claims.

    Three years ago, nobody involved in the development and implementation of Fair for Life
    knew if this approach would be successful. Today, it is obvious that fair trade needed
    this new perspective and approach. Creating a high quality Social and FairTrade
    Program and label with only little marketing and PR funds relying on client networks and
    information systems has been a challenging enterprise but it has paid off. Fair for Life
    has become a well known and fast growing segment of ethical and fair markets.

    For more information, please visit the web sites http://www.fairforlife.net and http://www.imo.ch.

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