Membership FAQs

What is the difference between fair trade certification and FTF membership?

We refer to the FTF’s screening process as verification not certification. Certification is offered by agencies such as Fairtrade International, IMO Fair for Life, and Fair Trade USA.

Certifiers perform supply chain audits to evaluate the production practices for a specific product.  The FTF’s screening process is a self-reported application designed to gather information about applicants’ holistic commitment to fair trade in all facets of the business model, including the product supply chain.

At this time, fair trade certification is only available for certain types of products—mostly agricultural and commodity items. Product certification is not required to become an FTF member. Our members find that FTF membership is a useful way to distinguish themselves in the market as 360° fair trade businesses.


What is the acceptance rate?

Historically, ~60-65% of all applicants are accepted as FTF members. Some applicants are not accepted the first time they apply, but are accepted later after making changes to their business.  The FTF always strives to make the application process productive, meaningful, and informative, for applicants regardless of acceptance.


What if my business is located outside the United States/Canada?

Organizations based outside of the USA and Canada are not eligible for FTF membership. The FTF encourages fair trade organizations located outside the USA and Canada to apply for membership in the World Fair Trade Organization (WFTO), the global network for fair trade producer organizations.


I sell some products made in the United States and/or Canada. Is that fair trade?

Fair trade is a tool for poverty alleviation in the Global South. Products made in the USA, Canada, and other countries with high levels of economic development—for example, products made by local artists in the USA — are not considered fair trade products under the FTF Code of Practice.

The FTF Code of Practice does provide flexibility for retail members to sell some products made by economically and socially marginalized producers in the Global North. These products must also be produced in accordance with the Fair Trade Federation principles. No more than 15% of a retailer’s inventory may consist of products made by marginalized producers in the Global North.  To learn more, please refer to the Sourcing Requirements in the Code of Practice.


Do all my products need to be fair trade?

With very few exceptions, yes. It is acceptable for FTF members to sell a small amount of items that are not available through fair trade supply chains—for example, educational items like books and CDs, and other items necessary for the sale of fair trade products, like cups and coffee stirrers. To learn more, please refer to the Sourcing Requirements in the Code of Practice.

FTF members may not sell non-fair trade items produced in the Global South.


Is there a minimum sales requirement in order to apply?

No.


Does the screening committee interview me when considering my application?

No. The Membership Manager acts as the liaison between applicants and the screening committee. All application materials are collected in writing.


Contact FTF’s Membership Manager with more questions: 302-655-5024 or screening@fairtradefederation.org