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  • Labels and Logos - what do they all mean?

    April 23, 2024 4 min read

    Labels and Logos - what do they all mean?

    When browsing in shops nowadays it seems as if products are covered in different labels, logos and certifications – and it can be difficult, and time consuming, to understand all the schemes and certifications that are behind these labels. 

    Let’s take a look at some of these labels to help you understand what they mean.

    The FAIRTRADE mark


     The original Fairtrade mark stands for fairly produced and traded products. It is the symbol of the International Fairtrade system and products bearing this mark meet agreed social, economic and environmental standards. This mark is used on single ingredient products, such as coffee, honey or bananas and means the product is fully traceable.

    Where there is a Fairtrade mark with an arrow, it means there is more information about the Fairtrade ingredients and sourcing on the back of the packaging. This mark with an arrow is usually found on products with multiple ingredients, such as chocolate bars.  When this mark is used, all of the ingredients that are available as Fairtrade must be Fairtrade (i.e., the cocoa, sugar and vanilla).  This mark with an arrow is also used for single ingredient products that are sourced via mass balance, such as sugar, cocoa, fruit juice and tea.

    The Fairtrade "Mass Balance" Scheme

    In an ideal world, every Fairtrade ingredient would be fully traceable from source to shelf. However, this can sometimes be too complex and/or too expensive to achieve, especially for products that involve multiple production processes.

    In such cases, the "Mass Balance" scheme can be used to justify the product's "Fairtrade" label. This scheme requires certified customers to ensure that the output amount sold as Fairtrade must be equivalent to the input amount sourced as Fairtrade, taking into account production yields and losses.

    In simple terms, if the production run of a particular chocolate bar uses 10% Fairtrade and 90% Non-Fairtrade Cocoa, then 10% of the finished bars may be labelled as "Fairtrade" regardless of whether those bars contain any of the Fairtrade cocoa or not.

    Those 10% of bars labelled as "Fairtrade" represent the fact that 10% of the cocoa was purchased at the agreed Fairtrade price and that a Fairtrade premium was paid on it.

    The Fairtrade Sourced Ingredient mark


    These white marks show that the named ingredient has been sourced as Fairtrade, such as Fairtrade cocoa in a chocolate bar.  As with the original Fairtrade mark, the arrow indicates that the ingredient has been sourced under mass balance and that there is further information on the back of the packaging.

    The Fairtrade Sourced Ingredient mark covers all Fairtrade commodities, other than bananas and coffee. It also gives farmers more opportunities to access the marketplace with their Fairtrade goods as companies have a greater level of flexibility to incorporate Fairtrade into their products.  The certification behind these labels is as robust as for the original Fairtrade mark and producers receive all the same benefits. 

    We Are Fair Trade Ltd stock a range of products that carry the Fairtrade mark, including our own Tea and cereal, and you can find them here

    Organic Certification

    The Soil Association established the world’s first set of organic standards in the 1960’s. Since then, the Soil Association logo has become the most used, and most widely trusted organic certification logo in the UK.


    Organics is a system of farming and food production using methods that benefit the whole food system, plant health and animal welfare.  Organic farmers work to a strict set of standards to ensure their farms sustain the health of soil, ecosystems, animals and people.  In practice, organic farming means fewer pesticides, no artificial fertiliser, higher standards of animal welfare, no routine use of antibiotics, no genetic modification and no artificial colours or preservatives.

    In order to be certified organic, foods must contain a minimum of 95% organic ingredients.  This is because some ingredients, such as water and salt, are not available as organic.  However, it must be clearly stated on the packaging which ingredients are not organic and how much of these ingredients are in the finished product.

    Products from Cocoa Loco, Island Bakery, Tropical Wholefoods and Equal Exchange are among those sold by We Are Fair Trade Ltd that are certified organic by the Soil Association.

    B Corporations

    B Lab, a non-profit organisation founded in 2006, created and awards the B Corporation certificate for businesses, measuring the entire social and environmental impact. In order to become certified organisations must meet standards of transparency, accountability, sustainability and performance with an aim to provide greater value for society.

    Certified B Corps are present in over 90 countries globally, and over 2000 companies in the UK are now B Corps.

    We Are Fair Trade Ltd stock a variety of products from B Corp certified businesses, including Café Direct, Divine Chocolate, Tony’s Chocolonely and Bio D.

    World Fair Trade Organisation – WFTO


    Unlike Fairtrade International, the WFTO Guarantee System assesses the entirety of a business and not just a specific product or supply chain.  The Guarantee System ensures that Fair Trade practices are implemented across the supply chain and the whole enterprise.

    The WFTO standard is based on the 10 Fair Trade Principles; it is necessary for each member of the Guarantee System to implement the requirements and continuously refine and improve their fair trade practices.

    Companies that are Guaranteed WFTO members can use the logo on their products. 

    Shared Earth Shared Earth and True Origins  (formerly Just Trading Scotland) are both WFTO Guaranteed Members, while other companies such as Namaste source some of their finished products from WFTO members in other countries.

    BAFTS Fair Trade Network UK is a network of independent shops and suppliers dedicated to promoting Fair Trade retail in the UK. BAFTS provides a structure of accountability to its members who adhere to the 10 Principles of Fair Trade as set out by the World Fair Trade Organisation (WFTO).

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