Café Mystique Coffee – Certified Fair Trade


Café Mystique Coffee was one of the first company in Canada in the field of coffee to work with Fair Trade.


Origin  of Fair Trade

Born from the collaboration between small farmers in Africa and European international aid organizations in the years 1950 to 1960, the Fair Trade  wanted to fight the inequalities inherent in international trade. Faced with world prices too low and often dependent on unscrupulous intermediaries, producers and their families were kept in poverty. By partnering with international aid organizations, producers have created the foundation for a trading system guaranteeing a fair price for their products and providing them a direct route to European markets.


Fair Trade Certification

After nearly fifty years of different approaches to Fair Trade, an international system of Fair Trade certification and labelling (later called « Fairtrade ») began to emerge in the late 1980s.

It was an opportune time to establish a set of standards and labelling as there was both growing consumer and commercial interest in Fair Trade products. Consumers wanted a guarantee that their purchases were truly benefiting producers and workers, and businesses selling Fair Trade products were eager for a system that engendered consumer trust.

Standards were developed to clearly define the obligations for producers and businesses who buy from them in order for a product to be called Fairtrade certified, and a rigorous third-party monitoring system was implemented to ensure standards were being met.

Finally, a label was created that would appear on products that had been independently Fairtrade certified. Different labels have been used around the world over the years, and the two most often found in Canada are the black and white « Fair Trade Certified » mark and the more colourful « Fairtrade » certification mark.


What is Fair Trade ?

FairTrade is a different way of doing business. It’s about making principles of fairness and decency mean something in the marketplace.

It seeks to change the terms of trade for the products we buy – to ensure the farmers and artisans behind those products get a better deal. Most often this is understood to mean better prices for producers, but it often means longer-term and more meaningful trading relationships as well.

For consumers and businesses, it’s also about information. Fair Trade is a way for all of us to identify products that meet our values so we can make choices that have a positive impact on the world.


One size fits all ?

How this is done varies widely – how people practice Fair Trade is largely determined by how they understand the problems it’s meant to address.For instance, Fairtrade Canada manages the Canadian side of an international system that sets standards defining what Fair Trade products are, and provides Canadians with a way to know whether those standards have been met. The intent is to both bring clarity about Fair Trade and instill confidence in the public that it is not about empty promises.

However, neither Fairtrade Canada nor the international system it represents invented Fair Trade, nor are its standards the only way it should be understood. Even companies who meet our standards and whose products carry our certification mark often approach Fair Trade differently, and it’s up to you as an individual to decide which approach makes the most sense to you.

Ultimately, Fair Trade appeals to our sense of fairness and common decency, and applies those values to the marketplace. It allows us to make a positive difference in the world just by the products we choose to buy.


A much larger community

Beyond certification bodies like Fairtrade Canada, producers, and the companies that sell their products, there is a much larger Fair Trade community. This community certainly includes all of these actors, but it also includes individual citizens, schools, academics, unions, activists, religious organizations, and more, all unified in their desire to make the world a better place and all bringing their own ideas and perspectives to the table.


Fairtrade International (FLO)

Fairtrade Canada is a founding member, and the only Canadian member, of  Fairtrade International (FLO). In addition to us, FLO is made up of 20 other national Labelling Initiatives located in other countries and three Producer Networks, all of which are voting members.

Together, the members of FLO are responsible for producing or promoting Fairtrade certified products around the world. We are also responsible for decision making within FLO, for example at the annual General Assembly.

FLO owns FLO-CERT, an independent, ISO 65 accredited certification company that provides certification services in over 70 countries.


Setting International Fair Trade standards

A key part of FLO’s role is to develop and review the Fairtrade standards. These standards apply to all Fairtrade certified producers. They also apply to the companies who market Fairtrade certified products, such as importers and exporters.  Standards are developed by the Standards Unit under the supervision of a Board appointed committee of producers, national Labelling Initiatives, traders and other experts. The standards are all public and can be viewed on the FLO website.