Spices and Herbs

In contrast to manufacturing where power is concentrated in the hands of a few, the growing of spice and herb crops is generally carried out by thousands of small scale farmers dispersed over remote areas. Although spices and herbs are best suited to small-holder production, small farming leaves producers vulnerable to many of the common problems in the agricultural trade. The demand and prices of spices and herbs fluctuate with global weather patterns, past production levels and changes in consumer and manufacturer preferences.

In recent years, an increase in the number of countries supplying spices and herbs has led to an overall drop in the market price.  These factors can make it very difficult for small-scale farmers to make a decent living. 


  • 2005 saw the establishment of FLO standards for herbs and spices
  • You can purchase vanilla, cinnamon, ginger, curry powder, nutmeg, cloves, black pepper, white peppercorn, turmeric, cardamom, garam masala, peppermint, hibiscus, and chamomile and all certified Fair Trade
  • Black pepper is the most widely used spice in the world


The category of spices and herbs covers a number of different products. Producers receive a guaranteed price that meets the sustainable costs of living, as well as a premium to invest in social, economic, and environmental development projects.

Fairtrade Standards for spices and herbs ensure that:

  • Producers are small family farms organized in cooperatives (or associations) which they own and govern democratically.
  • The Minimum Price is paid directly to the producer cooperatives.
  • Environmental standards restrict the use of agrochemicals, ban genetically modified plants, and encourage sustainability.
  • Pre-harvest lines of credit are given to the cooperatives if requested, of up to 60% of the purchase price.
  • A Fairtrade Premium is included in the purchase price and is used by cooperatives for social and economic investments such as education, health services, processing equipment, and loans to members.
  • No forced labour of any kind, including child labour

Information provided by Fairtrade International and Fairtrade Canada.

Brands To Look For