Fairtrade is a growing movement and product category in more and more markets around the world but the phenomenon is a tricky one to categorise. With a little help from the Fairtrade Foundation, here are fourteen quick facts on Fairtrade to mark Fairtrade Fortnight.

1. The concept of ‘fair trade’ has been around for over 40 years but a formal labelling scheme wasn’t launched until the late 1980s.

2. The term Fairtrade is used to describe the certification and labelling system governed by FLO designed to allow consumers to identify goods produced under agreed labour and environmental standards. The term Fair Trade is used to refer to the Fair Trade movement as a whole and can be used to describe both labelled and unlabelled goods and the work of Alternative Trade Organizations (Atos), Fair Trade federations

3. The first Fairtrade label was launched in 1988. It was branded “Max Havelaar,” after a fictional Dutch character who opposed the exploitation of coffee pickers in Dutch colonies.

4. In 1994, the first Fairtrade certified product was launched. Green & Black’s Maya Gold chocolate was then shortly followed by Cafédirect coffee and Clipper tea.

5. In 1997, Fairtrade Labelling Organizations International (FLO) was established in Bonn, Germany to unite the labelling initiatives under one umbrella and establish worldwide standards and certfication.

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6. Nineteen of the 20 national Fairtrade schemes are now affiliated to the FLO

7. In 2001, Garstang in the UK declared itself “the world’s first Fairtrade Town”. There are now more than 320 Fairtrade Towns, 4,000 Fairtrade Churches, 37 Fairtrade Synagogues, 60 Fairtrade Universities across the UK.

8. One in every four bananas sold in UK supermarkets is now Fairtrade with sales topping GBP150m (US$298m) in 2007.

9. UK consumers spent GBP493m on products carrying the Fairtrade mark in 2007.

10. Every day, UK consumers drink more than 8m Fairtrade hot drinks

11. At EUR18 (US$27.43), per capita consumption of Fairtrade products in Switzerland is higher than any other country, thanks in part to the fact that the country’s food retail sector is dominated by two players who both endorsed the idea early on.

12. As of the end of 2007, there were some 632 Fairtrade Certified Producer Organisations, representing over 1.4m farmers and workers, in 58 countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America.

13. The Faitrade scheme has its opponents. The Adam Smith Institute claims that the programme sustains uncompetitive farmers on their land, holding back diversification, mechanisation and denies future generations the chance of a better life.

14. Tate & Lyle is to move its entire retail cane sugar range to Fairtrade.

Click here for a piece published in March 2016, analysing the major issues facing food companies considering Fairtrade certification.