Fair Trade certification spreads to cosmetics

By Guy Montague-Jones

- Last updated on GMT

Shea butter has become the first cosmetic ingredient to be
certified as Fair Trade in Canada but others are likely to follow
as ethical consumerism catches on.

Fair Trade certification has long been available to food manufacturers and importers keen to redress the power imbalances in international trade and protect the rights of disadvantaged workers. Now the certification system has spread to personal care with shea butter being the first Fair Trade certified cosmetic ingredient to hit the Canadian market. Imported by Quebec-based Societé d'Agri-Gestion Delapointe and produced by a female farming collective in Burkina Faso, Africa, the Fair Trade shea butter is suitable for use in lip balms, body milks and massage balms. The ethical trend​ A recent Organic Monitor report predicted a sharp rise in the number of fair-trade personal care products on the market over the coming years. Beauty consumers have become increasingly interested and concerned about the ethical and environmental impact of their purchases. Manufacturers have therefore begun to respond to their demands by seeking Fair Trade certification, which guarantees a minimum price to producers and demand in return that producers pursue projects to further sustainable development. "Access to the international market via Fair Trade is very promising for the women shea butter producers because it guarantees a price per kilo that is two to three times greater than what companies from the conventional market usually offer,"​ said Adama Ouedraogo, director of CECO, an poverty fighting NGO that has supported the producers of the shea butter in Burkina Faso. Fair Trade certification system ​ Interestingly, in contrast to organic certification Fair Trade certification is much more harmonized. Fairtrade Labelling Organisations (FLO) International, which is an umbrella group comprising 23 member organization, sets international Fair Trade Standards, which are then implemented by the independent FLOCert. FLOCert coordinates all the inspections of producers, trade auditing and certification It usually takes between 6 and 12 months after application for a trading partnership to obtain certification, said Cynthia Wagner, spokesperson for TransFair Canada. TransFair Canada is one of the 23 member organizations of FLO and its task is to promote Fair Trade in the Canada and authorize the use of the Fair Trade logo on products sold in the country.

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