Fair Trade is well established in France. On the basis that producers are justly rewarded for complying with very strict social and environmental specifications, it shows strong growth in France. Sales jumped 11% last year and crossed the €2 billion mark for the first time.
In its early days, fair trade concerned only sectors importing products from emerging countries. Now, it extends to many “Made in France” products. Domestic trade is also affected by issues around fair reward for producers and respect for the environment.
Fair trade products and products produced in France can be recognized on store shelves thanks to the labels on their packaging. In implementing the Climate and Resilience Act 2021, all companies claiming to manufacture fair and local products must comply with the specifications of at least one certification body. To date, there are seven structural designations for this sector.
#1. Agri-Ethics France
Agri-Ethique was established in 2013 by an agricultural cooperative in Vendée, Cavac, during a period of high grain price volatility. At that time, society realized that farms in our areas are under threat. Producers are struggling to get their money back and cover production costs,” the poster creators explain on their website. They envision a new economic model that is “more equitable and coherent and able to create a link between all stakeholders.”
In 2018, Agri-Ethic became, strictly speaking, a Fair Brand, “a regulated and organized way to ensure farmers’ income, maintain jobs in our areas and support environmentally responsible community and environmental practices”. Controlled by Certipaq, this label covers 39 sectors, from grains to milk, including pulses, eggs, meat, honey, and fresh fruit.
#2. Organic Fair Trade in France
Bio Equitable was born in May 2020 from a meeting of farmers’ groups, companies in the organic sector and specialty distributors. “These different actors wanted to implement an independent labeling system for the organic fair trade sectors by giving a weighted position to the collective regulation of producers,” explains the Fair Trade France collective.
Nearly 5,000 farms bear this designation. They are united in 30 agricultural groups and associated with 40 companies in the organic sector. They offer milk, meat, fruits, vegetables, cereals, legumes, aromatic and medicinal plants, eggs. “Only food products are approved at this point, and the label was recently opened for cosmetics,” the group specifies.
#3. Organic French Fair Trade
Fair Trade French Bio is a label launched by the National Federation of Organic Agriculture (FNAB) in February 2020. Its goal: to provide commitments beyond the European organic label. “This label guarantees the French consumer of organic products and farmers a fair price and fair contracts,” explains FNAB.
The first products with the green flower logo on a white background were marketed by the frozen food chain Picard. “This collaboration was initially built around a set of four vegetables that are organic and native to the southwest region, and then extended to the southeast around a pool of three new references,” the union outlines.
# 4. Biopartner
Biopartenaire was originally an association created in 2002 by pioneering entrepreneurs in the organic sector. In 2018, they developed a label adapted to the French sectors, based on a reference system called FiABLE: Filières Attestées Biologiques, Loyales et Equitables. When affixed to the packaging, this label certifies that the product contains at least 50% of the ingredients from partnerships between farmers, processors and distributors who all adhere to the values of the association. The remaining 50% of the ingredients must be ingredients labeled by other organizations.
The Biopartenaire Society now has over sixty members. As for the label, it means at this point with more than 850 references in specialized stores: cereals, aromatic plants, dairy products, vegetables.
#5. Fair for life
Fair For Life is a fair trade certification program created in 2006. This designation applies to agricultural raw materials but also to cosmetics, textiles or craft products. With regard to food, the Fair for Life logo requires that products contain at least 80% of fair trade raw materials.
To date, more than 1,500 French producers, grouped in seven groups, benefit from the Fair For Life brand in different food sectors: milk, aromatic plants, fruits, vegetables and wine.
# 6. Max Havelaar France
It is perhaps the most famous sign in France. The Max Havelaar certification has been published since the 1990s in the international sectors. In stores, the label can be seen in the coffee, tea or chocolate departments. In 2021, Max Havelaar France decided to focus on France’s most fragile wheat and milk producers. “All the producers in the world deserve a fair price! Whether they are from France or elsewhere, we must secure those who feed us and tell consumers so,” emphasizes Blaise Desbords, General Manager of Max Havelaar France.
To obtain the first “Made in France” product certifications, the group teamed up with the Maîtres Laitiers du Cotentin cooperative. Two references – Formag Blanc Vanilla and Fromage Blanc Candy – will be marketed in early June 2022 in supermarkets (Super U, Carrefour) and distributed in group restaurants (hospitals, retirement homes, schools, etc.).
# 7. Fair Tourism
Fair Tourism is originally a brand of the Association for Fair and Solidarity Tourism (ATES), which was founded in 2006 by travel professionals. The goal is to “make travel a lever for development and solidarity with local people and actors”. In 2014, Ates created Fair Tourism to provide “information and guarantees for more responsible travel” around the world.
This designation was extended in 2019 to include tourist structures in France (accommodation, restaurants, cultural sites, etc.), with specification in France. Classified operators must, for example, bypass “French labor law, social and economic.” They must also commit to reducing water and energy consumption, recycling waste and reducing carbon emissions. They must also offer ecological and/or fair trade products to their customers. To date, 26 tour operators, one accommodation structure and one activity provider in France have been awarded the Fair Trade Tourism label.