Randy Hooper is the managing director at Discovery Organics. His company has been an independant distributor of certified organic and fair trade produce since 1999. The Canadian owned company has worked to build relationships with small scale farmers locally and abroad.
Fair Trade is a social movement – there are hundreds of non-profit organizations like Fair Trade Vancouver actively promoting a better world, not only in developed countries, but also in Latin America, Africa, and Asia.Until recently we had this kind of awkward arrangement where organizations sitting in ivory towers in Europe completely controlled the form of payments and amounts that farmers, from far away, would receive. These organizations were also the ones responsible for sending foreign certifiers and auditors to make sure all was well.However, the movement is changing very quickly, and for some, it may be confusing.
The development of the certified Fair Trade movement parallels the growth of Certified Organic.In the certified organic system, regional certifiers began by establishing their own standards.One by one, countries around the world established national standards (COR in Canada, NOP in the U.S. etc.), which, through equivalency agreements, have become a global standard. Audits are undertaken by independent certifiers representing over 280 certification bodies around the world.I expect that the Fair Trade movement will morph in a similar direction over the next few years, and consumers will get used to seeing 10 different Fair Trade certification marks in one store, just as they do with organic.