You’ve seen the labels on the food you buy every day.

Fair Trade certification labels are everywhere—labels from organizations like Fairtrade USA, World Fair Trade Organization, Agricultural Justice Project, and so many more. When these are combined with corporate initiatives like Starbucks C.A.F.E Practices or Mondelez Cocoa Life, it can become confusing to know what you’re supporting with your dollars.

A newly updated guide by a coalition of fair trade advocacy groups, led by Commerce Equitable France and the Fair World Project, is working to dispel the confusion around fair trade food labeling.

Find Out More About Fair Trade Labels >> >>

The guide breaks down common fair trade labels and sustainability initiatives in the United States and internationally, identifying their strengths in protecting fair trade and which labels could use improvement.

Key findings:

  • Independent fair trade standards are becoming increasingly more stringent in their economic, social, and environmental requirements.
  • However, generic sustainable development initiatives, especially those put forth by corporations, are becoming more prevalent. These initiatives lack transparency and have weak criteria, threatening the reliability of fair trade certifications overall.
  • As companies continue to create their own certifications and initiatives instead of utilizing existing standards, market confusion is growing for consumers.

Consumer deserve to have a clear and informed understanding on what practices they are supporting when buying a product with a fair trade label. Currently, this guide is the only resource analyzing fair trade labeling on an international level.

Read “International Guide to Fair Trade Labels”

Want to learn more about what other food labels really mean for you? Check out The Truth About Organic, Rodale Institute’s guide about what it means to buy certified organic food, as well as our recent post about the difference between “natural” and “organic” food labels.