Updating our coffee standard to be future-fit

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Fairtrade’s Coffee Standard has been updated to reflect a stronger approach to trading practices and commitment to human rights and environmental due diligence.

The new version of the Fairtrade Coffee Standard was officially launched this month, July 2021. The updates are designed to take a stronger stance when it comes to unfair trading practices, and reflect the direction human rights and environmental due diligence is increasingly taking.

The standard applies to small-scale producer organisations and traders. As usual, there will be a transition period for both producers and traders to adjust their practices and ensure compliance with the latest developments.

The transition period for criteria impacting trading practices began on 15 July 2021 and lasts six months, meaning it is effective as from 15 January 2022. The transition period for criteria related to Human Rights and Environmental Due Diligence began on 15 July 2021 and lasts one year, meaning it is effective as from 15 July 2022. (Criteria on entry requirements to the Fairtrade system became effective from 15 July 2021, since they supersede temporary measures already in place since 2020.)

Tighter trading practices

In order to strengthen better trading practices, such as the creation of non-existing producer organisations and timely compliance of contracts, several updates have been made, including:

  • More robust information to be provided as a producer organisation or exporter applying to enter the Fairtrade system, as well as having mechanisms in place to monitor producer production and sales information.
  • Clearer roles for exporters and sturdier contract criteria according to national and industry regulations.
  • Explicit clauses to ensure that the Fairtrade Minimum Price and Premium benefits are maintained, and that where certified organisations sell both on Fairtrade terms and conventional terms, that conventional terms are always kept at least at market level and without a discount.

Bolder steps for the environment and human rights

To respond to market needs and upcoming legislation, Fairtrade has now included sturdy criteria on human rights and environmental matters. For example, when it comes to human rights, producers are now required to carry out mandatory assessments and develop proactive policies and procedures for the prevention of child labour, forced labour and human trafficking.

As stated in its new strategy, Fairtrade believes environmental action is critical: including criteria related to environment and climate is therefore an imperative step in this direction. By implementing the standard, producers will count with a methodology to better assess their risks and adapt improved practices, becoming more resilient to the effects of climate change. The standard states that:

  • Producers are required to carry out environmental risks assessments and record them on an annual basis.
  • They need to have a climate adaptation plan where risks are properly prioritised.
  • They must adopt sustainable agricultural practices based on the climate adaptation plan.

Implementation support

Given the wider scope of topics included in the Coffee Standard, several measures will be put in place to support Fairtrade Producer Networks and producers themselves in this transition. This will include capacity building via training sessions and webinars, in addition to providing material and templates to facilitate the change. Producer Networks will begin training with producer organisations in January 2022.

The full standard is available to download here (PDF). For further information, email: media@fairtrade.org.uk