“Fair Trade” Certified Products


The Fair Trade movement is a social response to the conventional trading system by which many farmers and workers have been deprived or disparaged. Compared to traditional charitable donations and aid, buying Fair Trade products is a more effective way of facilitating supportable development, as it allows better trading conditions and sustainable farming for workers and farmers in developing countries. By contrast, traditional trade practices are reputed to treat the most underprivileged producers unjustly and discriminately; hence, Fair Trade seeks to empower these producers to enhance and advance their stations by helping to bring them out of poverty through increased wages, as well as by further developing their skills, reforming their societies, and protecting local resources to save the environment for posterity.

A Fair Trade product, which includes agricultural products and crafts, is made in an environment wherein the producers are guaranteed better – fairer – prices, improved working conditions, and fair terms of trade so that the working and living environment of their communities will be supported in their development and protection. The standard for Fair Trade products is that they must not be produced through forced labor, child labor, or in conditions that are disadvantageous to workers, as they must feel empowered to develop businesses that are competitive and prosperous. A Fair Trade label signifies that consumers are purchasing goods that are socially and environmentally responsible.

The ISEAL Code of Good Practice on Standard Setting is the guide against which Fair Trade standards are established, and the Fairtrade International Standards Committee decides the decrees regarding the standards. Additionally, buyers and suppliers must both act in accordance with the basic values and ethics outlined by organizations, such as Fair Trade USA and the Fair Trade Federation, that are involved in Fair Trade.

By trading directly with producers, Fair Trade importers do not have to deal with middlemen, which allows farmers to receive a greater cut of the income earned from the amount that the products will ultimately make when they are being sold in stores. To further entrench fair practices among the collectives that the Fair Trade importers collaborate with, these small-scale farms that are known for not having any hired help at all or for having only minimal hired help, must be operated democratically; this means that each farmer is given the chance to vote – on the prospects of their crops or other decisions that must be made collectively – and that all proceeds are equally allotted to each member.

Regardless of market price fluctuations and decreases, no matter how steep the decline, Fair Trade ensures that farmers receive a sensible minimum amount for their harvests. This means that particular crops must not be sold below specified prices. Purchasers commit to paying producers punctually for their products and may even offer them advance payment before the time of harvest, in order to guarantee those producers will have all the resources required to deliver their goods at the appointed time. In turn, producers commit to compensating their workers with fair pay.

To supplement the regular prices that they receive for their products, farmers also earn a Fair Trade Premium that allows them to develop and thus ultimately invest in their communities. The way it works is that goods earn an additional several pence per pound (and more if the products are organically-grown). This extra income may then be put toward such things as the farming business itself with a focus on using it to obtain organic certification or to irrigate the fields, both of which lead to the potential to earn more for their upcoming goods. Alternatively, the money may be invested in school-building and well-digging projects or to contribute to scholarships, to advance healthcare, to develop plans for better nutrition, to replace traditional energy sources with energy-saving systems, or to replant trees in order to optimize soil health. Producers may opt to put the money toward ecological strategies that address the factors contributing to climate change, and this ultimately works to the global advantage. The Free Trade Premium also helps growers and producers when their crop yields are low and in situations where the climate becomes inconducive to their existing farming methods and thus necessitates the cultivation of different crops.

Fair Trade not only mandates that farmers implement and maintain safe and secure working conditions that will not jeopardize the workers’ health and well-being, but it also prohibits any forced labor or child labor, both of which are common practices in several regions around the world. Furthermore, the regulations of Fair Trade prohibit any kind of harassment, exploitation, and discrimination, such as intolerances to workers’ political views or their affiliation with a trade union.

Fair Trade helps develop and strengthen the long-term relationships between producers, purchasers, and patrons by encouraging them to engage in the transparent and respectful exchange of insightful information regarding farming practices, general technical assistance, and market trends. This allows traders and distributors to join forces with farmers to resolve any issues.

Despite Fair Trade products not always being organic, the farming practices that growers are obligated to employ are still sustainable and ensure the protection of the land, the water, and plant life. This means that there is a controlled and limited list of fertilizers and pesticides that are permitted to be used, genetically modified organisms are entirely prohibited, energy is used in the most economical and ecologically-friendly ways, and waste management applies the philosophy of reusing and recycling in order to reduce waste as often as possible.

In keeping with the principle of respect, Fair Trade suppliers avoid coercing growers to implement the newest, most modern technology and procedures in place of their traditional methods for growing and producing. Instead, they grant them the right to continue their time-honored systems, thus acknowledging the unique customs of their individual cultures. While the growers are still educated about more current and contemporary practices, maintaining the techniques and customs of their ancestral backgrounds allows them to boost their productivity, which helps keep pace with buyer demands.


The late 1940s: The Fair Trade movement began; it is believed that, at this time, North American and European churches began the initiative of helping support disadvantaged communities and refugees by importing their artisanal creations, such as embroidery.

The 1950s: In Europe, Oxfam shops began selling the handcrafted artistry of refugees from China.

1958: America’s first Fair Trade shop was set up.

1964: Oxfam formed the first ever official Fair Trade Organization. In the Netherlands, a similar action was being taken.

1967: Fair Trade Original, another importing organization, was established in the Netherlands.

1969: Europe’s first Fair Trade shop was set up.

1960-70s: The founding principle of Fair Trade was formed; non-governmental organizations and people from places like Latin America, Africa, and Asia partnered up to address the necessity of having marketing associations that would do more than just promote and sell products – they sought to develop organizations that also informed, guided, advocated for, and generally supported underprivileged producers in impoverished communities – and they did. With their mission set to achieving fairness in global trade, they established several Southern Fair Trade organizations based on their unified vision of an alliance that implemented the values of equity, cooperation, open discussion, negotiation, honesty, respect, and transparent practices.


The following products can have Fair Trade standards applied to them and can be certified Fair Trade:


  • Cut Flowers
  • Ornamental Plants
  • Cotton
  • Sports Balls
  • Gold
  • Platinum
  • Silver
  • Beauty Products
  • Clothing
  • Jewelry
  • Fresh Fruit (namely Bananas)
  • Fresh Vegetables
  • Dried Fruit
  • Tea
  • Coffee
  • Wine
  • Juices
  • Nuts/Oil Seeds
  • Oil
  • Honey
  • Quinoa
  • Rice
  • Spices
  • Sugar
  • Cocoa





MYTH: Fair Trade products are always organic.

REALITY: Although the standards for the Fair Trade movement do ordain that farming processes be sustainable, Fair Trade products are not automatically “organic;” however, the Fair Trade Premiums paid to farmers may support them in implementing organic methods through training processes that can help them change and potentially align their practices with techniques required for organic production.


MYTH: The goal of Fair Trade is to compensate developing countries with wages that are paid in developed countries.

REALITY: The wages that Fair Trade growers and producers earn are not founded on the pay standards set out by a developed country, rather they are paid on the basis of accurate production costs. Production factors that influence the amount of compensation received include the following: the time commitment, the competence and exertion required, the local costs of living, minimum wages in the area of production, as well as the value of money and the community’s spending ability in the area of production.


MYTH: Fair Trade is essentially charity.

REALITY: While the Fair Trade revolution does help support constructive and lasting change for underprivileged workers by empowering them to be self-sustaining, their success is achieved through their own independent efforts in running their farms, groups, and businesses, rather than on donations. The main objective of Fair Trade organizations is trade. This means that they earn their wages fairly for their accomplished work and do not depend on receiving aid. The Premium sum that they receive goes into a collective fund for the community to share for their environmental, social, and economic benefits; it is not used by individuals for personal gain.


MYTH: Fair Trade products are more expensive.

REALITY: Compared to the prices of regular products, most Fair Trade prices are not expensive for the same or similar products. Due to the elimination of middlemen, Fair Trade organizations are able to do business directly with producers, which allows them to offer customers the most affordable prices and which makes it easy for producers to receive larger portions of the prices.


MYTH: Fair Trade products are always completely free of GMOs.

REALITY: Fair Trade outlines specific farming guidelines must be followed, but environmental pollutants and banned substances like GM seeds might not be entirely possible to avoid at all times, as there is always the possibility of neighboring fields inadvertently causing the contamination of smaller farms. For this reason, Fair Trade products are not labeled with the claim of being 100% GMO-free.


A company that wants to become Fair Trade certified must begin by submitting an application to an agency that is authorized by Fairtrade International to enforce Fair Trade standards and to be a certifying body. Next, an on-site audit of the company is conducted based on a checklist that is specific to the business.

This inspection serves to confirm the company’s adherence to Fair Trade standards and involves reviewing documentation, such as financial documents, as well as consulting with employees, executives, committees, and union members. This process helps to ascertain that the logistics network – from the producer all the way to the packaging of the final product – is supervised and inspected.

For the next step in the evaluation process, the assessor sends a report of the audit to a certification analyst, who then evaluates the outcome. In this phase, if the company’s practices are not already aligned with Fair Trade standards, it will receive a chance to make the changes necessary for conforming to regulations. If all required changes have been made and if the company is qualified to become certified, a certificate is issued. Each year, organizations that are certified must pay the certifying body an annual fee to maintain the certified status.


A Fair Trade label indicates that the labeled product has met international Fair Trade standards and that the farmers and workers associated with its production received fair treatment and wages. The label is not meant to ratify the professional practices of the company that is selling the product. NDA is new to Fair Trade products and is in the process of adding several more to its current range.

There is a misconception that it is easy for any company to apply a Fair Trade logo to its products and claim to be certified or even ethical. The reality is that, in order for goods to be labeled and marketed as Fair Trade, a company must first earn certification, which confirms that the products have been handled and produced according to the regulations and precise standards set out by Fair Trade International. Only after these requirements have been met can a company place a Fair Trade logo on its products. If a company claims that their products are certified but lacks the official certification to prove it, or if it infringes the Fair Trade regulations, the penalty would involve undergoing a thorough inspection and potential prosecution.

“Organic Essential Oils,” USDA Organic Certification and Seal


The term “organic,” often used interchangeably with the term “natural,” is in fact quite distinct from this comparative word by virtue of the government guidelines and the national standards that allow organic products to qualify as such. “Organic” refers to farming ethics and processes, specifically to the way crops are cultivated, processed, and produced in a way protects the supply chain and the environment from becoming harmed at any point.

In order for companies to have the full permission required to proceed with characterizing and selling their products as organic, products with the “organic” label must undergo thorough investigation and supervision by the auditor and earn certification before the label can be placed on products. On the contrary, companies are permitted to market any of their products as “natural” based on their own understanding and interpretation of the term.

An organic certification implies that the product is a result of organic farming, which seeks to encourage environmental equilibrium and to protect as well as sustain biodiversity by incorporating environmentally- and animal-friendly methods that support the salvaging and reprocessing of resources. These eco-friendly methods involve:

    • Rotating crops, which helps balance the soil’s nutrients and wards off pests
    • Composting and using “green” manures to introduce essential organic matter to the soil
    • Encouraging wildlife diversity
    • Refining soil health and quality by protecting against soil erosion, and by helping soil maintain its crucial microbiology
    • Helping protect water from becoming contaminated and preventing drought
    • Using farming methods that require significantly lower amounts of energy than conventional practices
    • Avoiding monocropping, which causes the soil to lose nutrients and ultimately leads to decreased crop yields
    • Keeping detailed documentation that allows for comprehensive traceability of processes from the field to the final product
  • Conserving the environment

There are several types of organic seals – Organic Ingredients, Made with Organic, 100% Organic, Certified Organic/USDA Organic – and each represents a varying degree of “purity.”



  • These products must show a list of ingredients
  • These products must contain ingredients that are at least 95% organically-produced
  • These products must not be produced using synthetic preservatives, pesticides, chemical fertilizers, petrochemicals, dyes, genetic engineering, ionizing radiation, or any other excluded methods
  • These products are usually free of GMOs
  • The USDA seal may appear on the package

100% ORGANIC means:

  • These products must contain 100% organically-produced ingredients (not including water and salt)
  • This is the only certification label that guarantees that a product is entirely organic and free of GMO ingredients
  • The USDA seal may appear on the package


  • These products must contain at least 70% organic ingredients
  • The remaining 30% of the ingredients (non-organic) in these products must not be foods
  • Non-organic ingredients must not be found on an exclusion list or be processed with prohibited practices
  • These products must not bear the USDA seal anywhere on the package

Canadian Organic standards, which apply to products that are both domestic and imported, strictly prohibit the use of the following:

  • Synthetic fertilizers or chemicals
  • Synthetic or toxic pesticides and herbicides
  • Irradiation
  • Genetic engineering/Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) or nanotechnology
  • Biosolids also called Sewage Sludge


Organic seal allowed? No; a product is prohibited from being marketed as “organic” No; the product must clearly state the organic ingredients Yes Yes
% of Certified Organic Ingredients Required Not specified Min. 70% 95% 100%
Contains GMOs? Possibly No No No
Required to comply with National List of Allowed/Prohibited Substances? No Non-organic ingredients must comply Non-organic ingredients must comply Yes
Certification Required? No Yes Yes Yes




The quality of an essential oil is determined not only by the way in which it is distilled but also largely by the source botanical’s seeds as well as the way it is cut, grown, and harvested. This is where organic farming practices come into play. When the use of pesticides and harmful chemicals became popular practices in farming, innovators in the field realized it was important to take a different route to address issues of soil depletion and the poor quality of food as well as livestock feed – problems that eventually led to soil erosion, reduced crop varieties, and rural poverty, among other problems. The alternate approach to resolving these problems lay in working to enhance the health of the soil.

Though traditional farming has always made use of organic practices, deliberately-organic farming is said to have been prompted by Sir Albert Howard, a British botanist who earned the nickname The Father of Modern Organic Agriculture for his study, recognition, documentation, and implementation of modern agricultural science as well as the traditional farming practices of India, which he viewed as more advanced than the usual agricultural techniques. He promoted farming systems that would return agricultural and biodegradable waste, green manure, as well as crop residues to the soil. He also endorsed the idea of supporting nature through the use of crops with deep roots that could help attract nutrients from the soil.

What is believed to be the first complete, “biodynamic” organic farming system, however, was developed by Rudolf Steiner, who underscored the ecological interconnectedness of soil quality and fertility, plant health, and animal health. This therapeutic philosophy also highlighted the importance of the farmer ensuring that all these factors remain healthy, as nature was considered to have the ability to enhance physical and mental well-being. Just as in other organic systems, biodynamic agriculture avoids the use of synthetic chemicals on soil and plants. This holistic view of balanced farming was also shared by Lord Northbourne, who was the first to coin the term “organic farming.”

In the 1940s, a modern organic “movement” (organic farming was originally started in 1840 with the theory of mineral plant nutrition) was initiated in response to the apparently increased dependence on inorganic, manmade, chemical fertilizers and pesticides in farming. These synthetics were usually comprised of by-products from the petroleum industry and they often had detrimental effects on the earth, eliminating many valuable living microorganisms from the soil.

Starting in the 1970s, organic farming has seen an upsurge in popularity, due to consumers’ growing consciousness of the importance of protecting and sustaining the environment and the resultant demand for organic farming and organic products; however, organic farming as an agricultural practice is distinct from organic certification.

The organic certification system was initiated in the 1970s when buyers expressed their apprehensions about believing the credibility of the “organic” claims and the purity of the products they were purchasing. Consumers’ doubts arose in part due to a lack of the previous closeness that existed between consumers and farmers, hence it became difficult to place confidence in the farmers’ word. Accordingly, organic certification became and remains a method for authenticating the claim that crops were cultivated, harvested, and produced in accordance with universally-validated etiquette, guidelines, and procedures that were stringently followed.


Soil PreparationAn analysis of the soil allows the producer to improve the soil’s nutritional and mineral status as well as its pH level, in order to achieve the levels required to supply crops with an optimal growth environment
  • Soil samples are taken in agreement with guidelines
  • In a laboratory, the soil is examined for insufficiencies or an overabundance in mineral content as well as for carbon ratios and organic status
  • In order to prevent soil degradation and to allow for an improvement in growth conditions, this analysis and preparation process checks the content of organic matter in the soil as well as its texture, type, structure, and nutrient levels
  • The soil is nourished rather than the plant
FertilizationThe levels of soil fertility must be within an adequate range before a soil-building strategy can commence
  • Depending on the soil type and the results of the soil analysis, the soil’s pH levels are corrected
  • Fertilizer use is planned according to the rules of the organic certifying body
Organic Matter
  • In order to enhance the soil’s levels of organic matter, the production/addition of organic matter must surpass the disintegration of organic matter
  • Organic soil preparation makes certain that the soil contains microorganisms and organic matter
Pest Control
  • In order to control pests organically, use of the following methods may be implemented: handpicking pests, water sprays, field vacuum, insecticidal soaps, plant extracts, reflective mulches, and traps





Farmers/Producers: It’s too expensive to get certified.


While there is a fee to be part of the certification program, the cost varies depending on several factors. It is possible to receive funding to cover some of the cost, and a substantial percentage of the certification fee can also be refunded through a federal program.


Farmers/Producers: The paperwork is too burdensome and overwhelming to make time for it.


The required paperwork is not time-consuming or labor-intensive, as it simply involves what is already required of farmers who run good farms. Furthermore, it offers the opportunity to improve business practices by encouraging farmers and producers to keep track of their productivity through a comprehensive and organized system, an exercise that is already a pillar of the business.

Certification requires that farmers and producers keep detailed records, and developing this habit of regularly and proficiently taking notes helps to hone and facilitate executive decisions. Furthermore, it helps improve administrative function, monitor cost-effectiveness by crop, and contribute to product safety.

The process of maintaining the certification does not require much time dedication each year either.


Consumers: Organic essential oils are superior to conventional, non-organic essential oils because the extraction methods for the two types are different.


Extraction methods vary depending only on the type of botanical, the plant part, and the intended resultant product. For example, if extracting oil from a plant’s seed, cold pressing would be the ideal method, as this process would yield more oil than distillation would. Accordingly, organic essential oils do not undergo specialized or dedicated methods when they are being handled or obtained.

Consumers: Organic essential oils never spoil.


While products made through organic processes may last a relatively long time, they will eventually begin to disintegrate due to the natural and inevitable process of oxidation. This causes products, such as essential oils, to lose their freshness, purity, scent, nourishing properties, and ultimately their quality and effectiveness.


Consumers: Absolutely no chemical pesticide residues remain at all in organic products.


The organic label on a product does not guarantee that the product has been grown in a pesticide-free zone, but rather that the use of pesticides was controlled and limited by a list of allowed substances.

When organic products are tested for residues of chemical pesticides, most of them are found to be free of them; however, even organic products can potentially retain the chemical residues that already pollute considerable expanses of air, soil, and water that may come in contact with organic products during cultivation or processing. Because of this unavoidable exposure to residues, traces may end up in organic products. Still, the best way to reduce the chances of exposure to these residues in natural products is to opt for organic products.



The benefits of organic farming practices include conserved energy, improved health, and quality of soil and water, and heightened biodiversity. Organic products are believed to have higher numbers of therapeutic properties and to thus exhibit a greater number of beneficial effects, making them ideal for aromatherapy applications. They are also believed to be safer for application, due to the absence of synthetic and chemical substances.

One of the main benefits of using organic products is that their growth and production assures environmental sustainability through eco-friendly practices. These practices include growing crops without the use of chemical fertilizers or pesticides, growing crops by salvaging and reusing natural resources, and generally leaving less of an environmental impact than conventional farms.

The product seal that displays proof of organic certification is a message to consumers that a third party has verified that the product does not contain any GMOs or any contaminants. The organic seal is evidence that a producer has satisfied and acted in accordance with regulations, compliance inspections, and approved materials and that the producer has contributed to the safeguarding of the earth and water. It provides consumers with the guarantee that producers are accountable and that their processes are trackable.

Each time buyers choose to purchase certified organic products, they support and help advance the growing movement that seeks to rectify the state of the environment through the promotion of wholesome and holistic practices with regard to managing soil, crops, and stock. This, in turn, encourages the farming processes that respond to the problems of pollution and diminished soil health as well as soil erosion. Carrying out organic agricultural practices have been known to enhance the land’s fertility, efficiency, yield, and biodiversity over time, bestowing these benefits upon future generations.



In order for goods to be labeled and marketed as organic, a company must first earn an organic certification, which confirms that the products have been handled and produced according to the regulations and precise standards of the certifying body. Only after these requirements have been met can a company place the organic seal on its products.

The USDA accredits certifying agents, who become responsible for ensuring that USDA Organic products meet all standards required for organic certification. Each year, companies have their organic certification authorized on-site by an autonomous third-party Quality Assurance system. This independent group reviews the company’s thorough documentation that accounts for all those who could have potentially come in contact with the organic product at any phase of production, namely farmers, transporters, processors, and wholesalers. The company’s own systems and processes are also audited and validated to certify that it observes the government-enforced organic regulations.



Many big companies claim that their products are certified organic but refuse to divulge their proper certification to prove it. NDA does not agree with this practice. We believe that we owe it to our customers to offer proof of our certification. Earning organic certification is a company’s best approach to authenticate a product’s purity and quality as well as to establish proof that a third party has confirmed they are vigilant about the ecological conservancy involved in their products. A seal of certification also gives conscientious consumers the peace of mind that the organic methods that went into manufacturing the organic product they are purchasing have in some way benefited not only individual farms but also entire communities, the land, and the environment at large.

For some companies, printing the “organic” claim on their products is more about inspiring excitement and promoting publicity for their brand than it is about delivering genuinely organic products comprised of mostly or entirely natural ingredients. Seeking to benefit from the value that the organic label gives their products, these companies end up deceiving customers, hiding the fact that many of these products continue to be processed inadequately or in environments that expose them to chemicals and other synthetics. This is what makes the certification stamp so important; the product should have “certified organic by…” followed by the name of the certifying body. If a company claims that their products are organic but lacks the official certification to prove it, or if it infringes the USDA organic regulations, it risks facing a large pecuniary penalty or having their certificate either revoked or suspended.


Market Report, September 2018

The following report contains updates on the current trends in the production and availability of the most in-demand Essential Oils, Carrier Oils, and Raw Materials sourced from around the globe.

almond tree

Almond Sweet Organic Oil

In Morocco, sweet almonds are harvested in September. The growing conditions have been normal and the harvest yield has been the same as in the previous year. The demand for the organic product is firm and prices remain stable; however, prices may increase due to an increase in conventional almonds from California.


Anise Star Oil

In China, Anise Star is harvested between March and May and again between November and December. At present, the raw material stock is meager and oil is limited; new Anise Star Oil is not expected to be available until November. The market price for Anise Star Essential Oil has been rising since late June; however, there is still a chance for prices to stabilize. Now is the ideal time to place orders.

Balsam Fir (Abies balsamea)

Fir Balsam Oil

In Canada, Fir Balsam raw material is distilled between the months of May and October. The insufficient sunlight as well as this year’s summer drought has caused a reduction in the yield and ultimately the amount of raw material. This year’s harvest yield was 0.078% compared to the 2017 yield of 0.087%; there is less oil from the yield depending on batches, and the drop ranges from 8-12%. Christmas tree growers represent 25-35% of sourced Fir Needle raw material with the forest industry representing the rest. There is a high likelihood that less raw material will be obtainable as a result of the USA dropping out of the NAFTA trade.

The production has been able to keep up with this year’s higher demand; however, once the production culminates, there will not be any carryover. Compared to last year, there is a 30% difference in pricing at this moment. The main and perhaps only influences preventing the price of Canadian Fir Need Oil from rising are the prices for European and Chinese Fir oils; despite the differences in species, the Siberian Fir and Chinese Fir price points are holding the Canadian Fir back from burgeoning; hence, now is the ideal time to buy, as the pricing is expected to rise later.


Lemongrass Oil

In India, Lemongrass is harvested between July and November. The market for Lemongrass Oil has not been reassuring, and currently, the only material available is that of inferior quality with low Citral content.