The new FLO annual report is out, highlighting the fantastic global growth in Fair Trade. Fair Trade sales have been growing at a 40% compound annual rate, and FLO estimates that 1.4 million producers and workers worldwide now benefit from Fair Trade. The US is the largest market for Fair Trade goods, and now makes up 30% of global Fair Trade sales.
As the movement grows, it has become increasingly important to ensure that the 1.4 million producers have an adequate voice. While here at TransFair USA we have assembled a producer’s council  to advise us, FLO has taken it a step further and made three producer networks full voting members of the organization – along with TransFair and the other 19 labeling initiatives. I had the privilege of attending the recent General Assembly where CLAC (Coordinadora Latinoamericana y del Caribe de Comercio Justo), AFN (African Fairtrade
Network) and NAP (Network of Asian Producers) officially became full members. Elected one by one, I got to watch as they cast their first votes to include their fellow producer groups. It was an amazing moment.
The commitment to a global multi stakeholder model can be challenging, but it is an important part of what makes Fair Trade unique.
As Peter Gaynor, head of Fair Trade Ireland said:
“We think it is important that producers are now co-owners of FLO – we are working to improve their situation and need to know what their priorities are. Whilst what we do is very simple, it’s important that we listen to each other and then do what will make the most difference to people in developing countries.”
As conscientious consumerism grows, consumers will be in a position to choose for themselves which models best reflect their interest in supporting sustainability and social change. All of the FLO members are committed to making the Fair Trade certification the best and most rigorous measure of ethically sourced products. Our progress is not only measured in growth, but also in our steady improvement in the ability of the system to deliver on its promise.