How big is Fair Trade?

What is a Fair Trade public procurer?

What kind of Fair Trade products are available on the market? Are they interesting for my public authority?

What is the difference between a product with ethical guarantees and a Fair Trade product?

Are Fair Trade and other products the same quality?

Are Fair Trade products more expensive than conventional ones?

Is Fair Trade Public Procurement a problem for the market or conventional industry?

What is the role of the usual suppliers?

Fair Trade has continued to grow steadily, especially in the last decade. Through the three networks (Fairtrade International, the European Fair Trade Association and the World Fair Trade Organization-Europe) the FTAO represents an estimate of 2.5 million Fair Trade producers and workers from 70 countries, 24 labelling initiatives, over 500 specialised Fair Trade importers, 4,000 World Shops and more than 100,000 volunteers.
What is a Fair Trade public procurer?
A public authority (a village, town, city, county, region) or a public body (school, hospital, a company which is financed, supervised or managed to at least 50% by a public authority) can make a commitment to supporting sustainable development, and in particular marginalised farmers and producers from developing countries, by including Fair Trade criteria into their public procurement procedures.

Fair Trade Public Procurement can be completed by other commitments towards Fair Trade. Any public authority can work towards Fair Trade status, involving its entire community. By choosing to support Fair Trade, a community can add its voice to demands for a system that puts people, not profit, at heart of the transaction. By procuring Fair Trade products it actively contributes in making trade fairer.
There is a wide range of Fair Trade products – more then 1 000 in different sectors. The most well-known are Fair Trade food and drinks, however Fair Trade products are present in many other sectors as well which could be interesting to public authorities’ purchases.
Please find below a list of a few examples of Fair Trade products which might be interesting for your public authority:
  • Food products such as rice and cereals, biscuits, chocholate as well as hot and cold drinks, etc. could be procured for use in public cafeterias (in schools, service homes, public administrative offices, etc.)
  • Camping supplies could be procured for use in e.g. kindergartens and schools.
  • Cotton products could be procured for use as working uniforms, decoration supplies in indoor public areas.
  • Craft products could be procured for use as decoration supplies in indoor public areas, (holiday) gifts for employees / official visitors, etc.
  • Flowers could be procured for use as indoor and outdoor decorations of public areas (offices, waiting halls, parks, squares, etc), gifts.
  • Gardening supplies could be procured for use in maintenance of public outdoor areas.
  • Paper materials could be procured for use in all office areas, schools, kindergarten and administrative unites of public authorities.
  • Sport balls could be procured for use in e.g. schools and kindergartens.
  • Toys / games could be procured for use in e.g. schools and kindergartens.
A product with ethical guarantee ensures that the production process complies with minimum labour standards according to on the guarantee concerned. Fair Trade products do not only guarantee decent labour conditions for producers and workers, they also guarantee that those who produced them received a fair price. This allows the producers to cover their production costs as well as having decent living conditions. Fair Trade also guarantees that the producers benefit of pre-financing. It also guarantees a long term relation between the producer and its importers which allows the Fair Trade producer to develop their business in stable and favorable conditions.
Yes. The quality of the product or service is essential to guarantee an efficient and sustainable contract. The introduction of Fair Trade, social or environmental criteria in the call for tender does not prevent from keeping in mind the realities of the market, and is not made to violate the essential requirements such as quality.
In a first phase there is a substantial difference of price between a conventional and a Fair Trade product. Nevertheless, when the consumption of Fair Trade products increases, the difference decreases. Ethical and Fair Trade consumption also permit to realize savings, as this kind of consumption reduces environmental damages, and involvement in Fair Trade Public Procurement enhance the situation for people suffering of poverty and exclusion.
No, on the contrary.
Fair Trade Public Procurement is a tool based on the market demands. It respects the rules of the market, such as competition both at national and EU level. In addition, Fair Trade Public Procurement is positive for the industry, as it gives incentives for innovations and to enhance the sustainability of the production and trading systems.
The suppliers and providers have a key role to play in the development of sustainable and Fair Trade solutions. To develop sustainable and Fair Trade Public Procurement it is essential to find a demand for such an initiative. It is necessary that the public administrations are willing to commit to sustainability and Fair Trade, cooperate with the suppliers to support the implementation. The public authorities should provide bidders with relevant information about the changes they will to introduce in their procurement procedures requirements. They should also give a motivation for the changes, including the potential benefits for the suppliers to adapt to the changes.

Legal framework

Case studies


National Resources