I regularly look at product labels because that is part of my job. So when I come across a label that says Direct Trade, or even “Direct Trade Certified,” I have to wonder why a brand would compel themselves to create something for consumers in order to differentiate themselves that really doesn’t mean much. As someone that has worked in the fair trade movement for 15 years, I always dig deeper into those claims to see what they really mean.
Many brands are frustrated by fair trade certification, and let me be very clear, it is certification, not fair trade they are frustrated with. There is a social movement to change the way we trade globally, allowing small-scale producers to participate and thrive, and to provide social services locally in impoverished producer communities that are not provided by local or federal governments. That social movement is called fair trade and it is alive and strong. It is fair trade certification that is broken. Fair trade is more than a logo or a brand, it is a movement to strengthen communities.
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