Raw food materials sourced from developing Countries can show additional safety and authenticity issues compared to other food ingredients, due to many reasons. Food safety laws in those Countries, along with food safety inspections and monitoring systems, are different and often less restrictive compared to Europe or North America. Furthermore, agricultural practices in developing Countries often involve a myriad of small farmers with limited production yield capacity, that gather together their harvests in order to reach the minimum tonnage to be sold to international food companies or traders. This can cause non homogeneous raw materials batches regarding quality, pesticides or other contaminants levels, size distribution, ripeness, colour or flavour, etc. The Fairtrade certification system, protecting developing Countries food producers, is partially addressing some of these issues. It is defined (1)as a “trading partnership, based on dialogue, transparency, and respect, that seeks greater equity in international trade.
It contributes to sustainable development by offering better trading conditions to, and securing the rights of, marginalized producers and workers – especially in the South. Fairtrade organizations, backed by consumers, are engaged actively in supporting producers, awareness raising and in campaigning for changes in the rules and practice of conventional international trade”. Fairtrade certification therefore aims to guarantee not only fair prices, but also the principles of ethical purchasing. These principles include banning child and slave labour, guaranteeing a safe workplace and the right to unionise, adherence to the United Nations charter of human rights, a fair price that covers the cost of production and facilitates social development, and protection and conservation of the environment. The Fairtrade certification system also attempts to promote long-term business relationships between buyers and sellers, crop prefinancing, and greater transparency throughout the supply chain and more, although some of these claims have been challenged by critics from time to time. The Fairtrade certification system covers nowadays a growing range of products, including cocoa, coffee, bananas and other tropical fruits and derived products, honey, cotton, nuts and oil seeds, quinoa, rice, spices, sugar, tea, etc. There are a large number of Fairtrade marketing organizations having different marketing strategies, standards and criteria, and there have been major changes in marketing strategies over the last two decades.