Fairtrade has extended the current entry requirement for organisations growing or trading cocoa: New Fairtrade applicants interested in cocoa certification will have to demonstrate that they have end buyer commitments for their crop.  With this move, Fairtrade wants to strengthen coffee and cocoa farmers’ livelihoods and enable them to earn a living income. For new producer organisations and exporters interested in coffee certification, new entry requirements became applicable 15 July, 2021.

As certification body for Fairtrade, FLOCERT is incorporating the requirement into the Fairtrade application process.

Worldwide, over 125 million people depend on coffee for their livelihoods, yet many are unable to earn a reliable living from this beloved and valuable crop. The Fairtrade Minimum Price of US$1.40 per pound and the Fairtrade Premium on top serve as a safety net for Fairtrade coffee farmers, but the amount sold on Fairtrade terms depends on end buyer commitments.

Why this change?

A key factor in cocoa and coffee farmers being able to move towards earning a living income is that they can sell more of their crop on Fairtrade terms. Among other benefits, this includes receiving the Fairtrade Minimum Price and the mandatory Fairtrade Premium, an additional amount on top of the selling price that farmer cooperatives choose how to invest in their businesses and communities.

This requirement is part of how Fairtrade is seeking to deepen benefits for farmers. Producer organisations that are currently Fairtrade certified can continue to benefit from existing or expanded sales, while newly certified organisations will have committed Fairtrade buyers lined up. Fairtrade Producer Networks will be able to provide a higher level of assistance to a more stable number of producer organisations. Traders that are part of Fairtrade supply chains can continue to develop trading relationships, with full commitment to Fairtrade principles.

How to meet this new certification requirement for cocoa  

If you are a producer organisation or a trader interested in applying for Fairtrade certification in cocoa, you should first contact your next buyers to be sure you know the end buyer and specific volumes being committed.

Your end buyer, whose products bear the FAIRTRADE Mark, will need to provide the buyers' commitment assurance, with which the National Fairtrade Organisation (NFO) issues your recommendation letter. In a country without an NFO, Fairtrade International would provide this recommendation letter, if supplied with the buyers' commitment assurance.

In the event that your certification application is related to a need to fulfil existing Fairtrade commitments that can’t otherwise be met (for instance, meeting certain quality, quantity, or product specifications), you are required to submit a recommendation letter from your regional Fairtrade Producer Network (if you are based in producing regions), or from a NFO (if you are not).

To find out which Fairtrade organisation to get in touch with to request a recommendation letter, contact

As the certification body for Fairtrade, FLOCERT incorporates this requirement as a prerequisite for your Fairtrade application process in cocoa. As of 1 June, 2020, applicants are asked to submit their recommendation letter from a National Fairtrade Organisation (NFO), a Fairtrade Producer Network (PN) or Fairtrade International prior to receiving an application package and proceed with their application. Applicants are requested NOT to pay the application fee until the recommendation letter has been granted.

You may also just use FLOCERT's Get Started form to start your application process and will then be informed about the next steps by our applications teams.

How to meet the new requirements for coffee, applicable as of 15 July 2021

If you are a producer organisation interested in applying for Fairtrade certification in coffee, you will need to demonstrate that you meet certain conditions as laid out in the revised coffee standard:

  • You must demonstrate that you have been an established and active organisation for at least two years prior to requesting certification, with administrative, technical, commercial, and financial capacity by providing the records of the General Assembly of the last two years and a business development plan
  • You must demonstrate that you have a market potential for at least the first two years of Fairtrade certification with a letter of intent from at least one buyer with a formal communication of business engagement with a Fairtrade buyer (importer/roaster); and a business plan agreed between the producer and the Fairtrade buyer (importer/roaster).

If you are an exporter interested in applying for Fairtrade certification in coffee, you will need to demonstrate that your assistance as an export service provider is required by a producer organisation to undertake Fairtrade exports. You demonstrate this with a record of prior transaction(s) and/or a confirmation letter from the identified Fairtrade certified producer organisation.

The Bigger Picture

Fairtrade is also pursuing other measures to support farmer incomes, including focused producer support and marketing efforts to expand demand for Fairtrade coffee and cocoa, to accompany the new requirement.

For cocoa, this new requirement will be in effect until July 2022 or until it is superseded by the publication of the revised Fairtrade Standard for cocoa, which is currently undergoing full review.