I have recently become US Representative for the well-respected organic and fair trade certifier, called IMO, and am helping them to set up a US office. IMO has a social and fair trade program which is really interesting, and is offering certification of Fair Trade for products that never were able to get this certification in the past, and also a certification called Fair Wild which is specifically for wild harvested goods. This Fair Wild certification is also interesting because it might be viewed as a very pragmatic approach to setting up benefit/share relationships between people who hold traditional knowledge, and the companies that want to commercialize those wonderful products. Here is a press release we recently sent out:
New Third-Party Fair Trade Certification Available for a Wide-Range of Products
One of the most prominent organic certifiers, The Swiss-based Institute for Marketecology (IMO), is launching a new Fair Trade certification, labeled “Fair for Life”. Until now, Fair Trade certification has not been available for many types of products. For the first time IMO’s new fair trade standards makes Fair Trade certification available to many products, thereby opening new market opportunities as consumer awareness and demand for fair trade products is growing quickly.
“Fair trade is behaving similarly to the early movement in organics, and is predicted to grow similarly, as there is no sign of slowing to this consumer demand,” says Kerry Hughes, M.Sc., US IMO Representative, also Founder of EthnoPharm, a natural products consulting company with over a decade of experience. IMO has a strong presence throughout the world, with offices and representatives in about 30 countries, and certification practices in over 90 countries. With a new representative in the US, IMO certification will be more attainable to US companies.
A key attribute to the IMO certification is that, compared to the Fairtrade Labeling Organization (FLO) standards, the only other standards available for Fair Trade certification, IMO Fair Trade will be available for a wide range of materials and products: herbs, foods, spices, botanicals, including multi-ingredient products, wild harvested produce (under the new Fair Wild standard), and non-food products including handicrafts, textiles and toys. Another key aspect is that the standards were specifically developed to allow any type of smallholder producer organization to be certifiable, including cooperatives and contract production. Plantations and processors will also be certifiable. Additionally, IMO Fair Trade Certification offers operators incentives for continuous improvement of social and trade conditions beyond minimum requirements. The new certification is built on full transparency; therefore, social performance ratings and fair trade premium use of every certified operation will be published on the new website www.fairforlife.org..
For more information, Kerry Hughes and Florentine Meinshausen from IMO will be conducting a Webinar telegroup, November 20, 2007, at 1 PM PCT, to introduce the IMO Fair for Life certification, and the steps required to becoming certified. To attend the tele-conference, or for more information, email Kerry directly at: Kerry@EthnoPharm.com.