Since Fairtrade first began certifying flowers in 2001, consumers have been eager to brighten someone’s day with Fairtrade roses and other Fairtrade cut flowers. Most of these come from East Africa, which is a prominent production hub for the global flower industry. Fairtrade Standards also cover other plants like poinsettias, geraniums or potted chrysanthemums.
Most flowers and plants are grown on large estates. As a result they are one of the only Fairtrade products to be exclusively sourced from plantations with hired workers, and not small-scale farmers. Fairtrade’s Hired Labour Standard establishes criteria that aim to improve working conditions on plantations and gives workers a stronger voice with plantation management.
Fairtrade Flower Facts
- Flowers and plants were the first non-food product certified by Fairtrade.
- 55 Fairtrade hired labour organizations represent 48,500 flower workers in eight countries, according to the 2015 Fairtrade Monitoring and Impact Report.
- Almost all Fairtrade flowers come from East African countries, namely from Kenya, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Zimbabwe and Uganda. Ecuador, El Salvador and Sri Lanka also have Fairtrade certified flower plantations.
- In 2013-14, 640 million flower stems were sold on Fairtrade terms and workers received €5.6 million in Fairtrade Premium payments. They chose to invest 33 percent of this sum in education projects.
- Since 2014, Fairtrade also certifies plants from propagation farms. On these farms, Fairtrade workers cultivate mother plants and harvest cuttings from them. These young plants can then be sold to Fairtrade certified traders, who continue growing them in plant nurseries and market gardens that are located closer to consumer markets.
Fairtrade Impact for Flower and Plant Workers
Fairtrade certification has had major benefits for workers on flower and plant plantations. Officially binding contracts are the norm on certified plantations, while this is still quite rare on non-certified plantations. Fairtrade plantation workers also possess more knowledge about their individual and collective rights than workers on non-certified farms.
While pesticide use is a fact of life in the flower and plant industry, the Fairtrade Standards prohibit the use of the worst kind of pesticides. It is also required that workers are provided proper protection equipment, are trained in pesticide handling, and receive regular medical check-ups when working with pesticides.
Due to abundant heat and sunlight that prevail in East Africa and Latin America, Fairtrade flowers are grown in greenhouses that are heated and lit naturally, requiring less energy input than if this was done artificially. Fairtrade encourages the use of methods that minimize the amount of water needed for cultivating flowers and plants, and Fairtrade projects often involve ways to increase water efficiency.
Flowers and plants are one of the few Fairtrade products that do not have a Fairtrade Minimum Price. Flowers and plants are fresh products with a highly flexible pricing, which makes it difficult to establish a long-term Minimum Price. The lack of a Minimum Price is balanced with a higher Fairtrade Premium, one of the highest in the Fairtrade system. Currently it ranks at ten percent of the commercial sales price negotiated between plantations and traders. Workers can use these payments to invest in education, community infrastructure and workers’ rights trainings.
Fairtrade certified flowers are currently available at the following retailers:
- The Flower Forest, Dryden
- Arborg Nic Nacs, Arborg, MB
- The Station, Boissevain, MB
- Carman Florist, Carman, MB
- Fountain of Flowers, Dauphin, MB
- Cut & Dried Russell Flowers, Russell, MB
- Edward Carriere, Winnipeg, MB
- The Floral Fixx, Winnipeg, MB
- U Floria, Winnipeg, MB
- Freson Bros., AB
- Boyle Floral Cottage, Boyle, AB
- Co-op Mill Wood, Edmonton, AB
- Earth’s General Store, Edmonton, AB
- Funky Petals, Edmonton, AB
- Graham & Lane Florist, Edmonton, AB
- Falher IDA Pharmacy, Falher, AB
- Fantasy Flowers, Vermillion, AB
- Choices Markets, BC
- Thrifty Foods, BC
- Steveston Super Grocer, Richmond, BC
- Claytons Heritage Market, Sechelt, BC
- Bloom Room Botanical Gallery, Vancouver, BC
- Meinhardt Fine Foods, Vancouver, BC