Fairtrade Certification Celebrates 25 Years

On November 14, The Max Havelaar Foundation and Fairtrade International celebrated 25 years of the Max Havelaar Fairtrade Mark in Utrecht, Netherlands. After 25 years, the mark is what distinguishes Fairtrade certified products, and it has helped the industry grow. Fairtrade certification now represents more than 30,000 products and $6.78 billion in annual sales that go to helping 1.35 million farmers worldwide. 

How it began

In 1988, Frans van der Hoff, a Dutch missionary, and Nico Roozen, a Dutch economist began working with Solidaridad to launch the first Max Havelaar label, named after a fictional character who opposed the exploitation of coffee pickers in Indonesia. 

“Twenty five years ago, the principled pragmatism of Dutch founders, together with the vision of Mexican coffee farmers, put a mark on a product to ensure consumers knew farmers were receiving a fair price. We should pay credit to the genius of the simplicity of their idea and that they had the guts to go and do it when people said it wouldn’t work -- that the public didn’t care,” said Molly Harriss Olsen, Chair of Fairtrade International

Fairtrade Mark in Canada

The international Fairtrade system represents a global body of organizations that includes three producer networks, 25 Fairtrade organizations, Fairtrade International, and FLO-CERT, the independent certification body of the global Fairtrade system.

In Canada, Fairtrade Canada is the national organization responsible for certifying products in Canada and licencing the use of the Fairtrade Mark. 

International celebration

To celebrate the anniversary, Max Havelaar Netherlands hosted the Max Havelaar Jubilee Conference: Smallhoder Innovations, where the organization invited smallholders from across the world for a one-day event in Utrecht. At the event, farmers shared perspectives on how fair trade has helped them improve their communities. Peter d'Angremond, Executive Director of the Max Havelaar Foundation, also presented the first carbon-neutral coffee.

Follow updates from the event on Twitter: #Fairtrade25