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Fair trade

Fair trade is a way of buying and selling products that allows the farmers to be paid a fair price for their produce, and have better working conditions.

Trade is ‘unfair’ when farmers receive very low income and have poor conditions while the companies that sell their products make lots of money from them.

The Fairtrade Mark was introduced in 1994; it is a symbol awarded to products that are sold under certain fair-trading conditions.

Top 10 facts

  1. There are over 4,500 Fairtrade Mark products sold in the UK.
  2. Products with the Fairtrade Mark are sold in over 120 countries.
  3. The Fairtrade Foundation was formed in 1992, with the Fairtrade Mark first being used in 1994, over 20 years ago now.
  4. The first product to get the Fairtrade Mark was Green and Black’s Maya Gold chocolate bar.
  5. Divine Chocolate is the only chocolate company in the world to be fully owned by farmers.
  6. The first ever UK Fairtrade Mark banana was sold in the year 2000.
  7. A third of all bananas sold in the UK have the Fairtrade Mark.
  8. There are over 1.4 million farmers and workers worldwide who work to produce Fairtrade products.
  9. Fairtrade products include both food and non-food items – there are standards for each type of item that need to be achieved before it is classified as Fairtrade.
  10. Fair trade towns are dedicated to supporting fair trade – there are over 550 in the UK alone.

Did you know?

  • ‘Fair trade’ as a term means ‘moving towards fairer trading conditions’, while ‘Fairtrade’ is the label used to identify products with the Fairtrade Mark. Fairtrade is a registered trademark.
  • The Fairtrade Mark symbol is made up of a blue sky that symbolises optimism, and an arm, raised in the air – this symbolises empowerment. The Fairtrade Mark also incorporates the colour green to symbolise growth.
  • Fairtrade products come from over 70 different countries from around the world. The people who produce these items receive a minimum price and premium for their products.
  • Fairtrade has encouraged many farmers to farm in a more sustainable and environmentally-friendly way, using fewer chemicals and effective irrigation.

Look through the gallery below and see if you can spot the following:

  • Fairtrade Mark
  • A range of Fairtrade products
  • Fairtrade oranges
  • A Fairtrade coffee farmer
  • Green and Black’s Maya Gold chocolate bar
  • Bananas growing
  • Coffee beans
  • A tea plantation



The very beginnings of the fair trade movement started as long ago as the 1960s. It wasn’t until the 1990s that a Fairtrade Mark was created and a series of required ‘standards’ were set out. Fairtrade aimed to improve the conditions, community facilities and pay for certain farmers and workers.

The Fairtrade ‘standards’ are a detailed list of things that need to be achieved before products can be classified as Fairtrade goods. They include things like fair pay. The aim of having these standards is to ensure that costs are covered and that there is a bit of money as well to invest in local community projects. The Fairtrade standards also aim to help build trading partnerships and to make sure that the conditions people work under are acceptable and fair.

The first product to be classified as Fairtrade was Maya Gold chocolate, made by Green and Blacks, in 1994. Since then there have been many more things awarded the Fairtrade Mark, including coffee, tea, chocolate, sugar, honey, fruits (for example, bananas, mangoes, pineapples), flowers, gold and silver, and cotton.

Some people have argued that Fairtrade has a negative effect on what is called the ‘free market’, where products are produced when they are needed and farms can grow in size and grow different crops as well as use new mechanical equipment, if the demand for their product increases. Fairtrade doesn’t always help encourage this.

Words to know

Community – the people who live in and share a specific area, often working together and socialising together.
Fair trade – a movement encouraging fairer trading conditions.
Fairtrade – the label used to identify products with the Fairtrade Mark.
Fairtrade Mark – the symbol associated with Fairtrade products.
Free market – where products are sold competitively and according to supply and demand.
Invest – putting money into something as an investment. This money is then used to develop an idea or process.

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