Fair trade monitoring is the backbone of providing fair trade products. As a World Fair Trade Organization member we follow comprehensive fair trade practices to be able to guarantee that our products are fair trade. Assuring fair trade is a continuous process of monitoring, measuring and improving rather than a one-time certification. A lot of the fair trade work we do with producers is linked to the information we gather at the duo-yearly monitoring visits, but even before that, we assess the producer capabilities of becoming one of our fair trade partners. Let's take it from the start.
It all starts with an assessment where we gather information about a potential producer through meetings, references and online sources. The first criteria are that the producer does create work opportunities for marginalized or low-income groups. We also assess several environmental principles such as chemical use, plastic use, energy use, and we work mainly with producers that next to having a social goal, also creates products with high consciousness towards the environment.
It is important to emphasise that we do not necessarily require a producer to comply with all fair trade standards from the beginning. If we assess that they have the ability and willingness to comply with the standards in a reasonable time span it's is in itself an important social impact to work with them on becoming a fair trade partner. This way we help expand fair trade practices, instead of solely working with the producers that are already compliant.
2. Monitoring visit
The next step in the fair trade monitoring procedure is to visit the producer. During this visit, we interview management and workers to get information about everything from wages, to safety, capacity building, training, workers freedoms, influence and hours, workers ages and treatment, as well as various environmental standards and more. We also assess the facility and things such as toilet facilities, cleanliness and fire safety measures. Monitoring visits take place every 2 years, yet monitoring is a continuous process of improvements and compliance.
All the World Fair Trade Principles we follow can be found here.
After the visit, we evaluate the information collected and create improvement plans for non-compliances. This can for example be a lack of fire extinguishers or a need for a better safety risk assessment.
The improvement plans are set up to guide the producer in how they can comply with the standards and they are followed up with the producer until compliance.
4. Living wages
An important part of fair trade lies in assuring living wages. This is estimated through 3 components that together form a picture of the local living prices, the local income levels and the circumstances in the area. This part is created in partnership with the producer to get the most local knowledge possible. Read more about how we calculate the living wages here.
5. Capacity building
Based on what we know about each producer after monitoring them and discussing local circumstances, we create a specialized capacity-building information package for the producer. The purpose of this is to help the producer increase their social and environmental impact, as well as contribute to empowering the workers so they can better stand up for their rights and expand the opportunities for themselves and their families.
It guides the producers in best practices and practical knowledge in how to comply with the fair trade standards, tips on environmental implementations they do and much more.
Next to our visits and evaluations, an independent auditor goes to selected producers every 3 years to independently assess them and compare them with our evaluations.
We continuously update our self-assessment report which is overlooked by both auditors and World Fair Trade Organization.
A vision worth fighting for!
The time and resources that go into assuring fair trade are extensive. An important way for us to be able to afford such an operation is to use digital tools and systems to both increase effectiveness and improve the quality of our monitoring. We do this continuously and we are proud to have created a comprehensive, yet effective digital fair trade system. By sourcing from us, you have an impact by promoting fair trade and supporting our continued work for a fair world for everyone!