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Why would growers put a label on their flowers…

Fair trade labels on flowers are becoming more common, especially in supermarkets. But why would growers have to put a label on their flowers if they are already fair trade? This article aims to provide some more insight into fair trade certification.

Social responsibility
Consumers in the European Union are becoming increasingly aware of the consequences of their shopping behaviour on suppliers at the other end of the chain. In the flower market, consumers realise that they have the power and responsibility to influence production methods on the flower farms.

Consumer concerns about flower growing methods have been fed by media coverage in recent years. Several reports were published on low salaries, dangerous working conditions and discrimination on flower farms in developing countries. The reports upset consumers and damaged the image of the flower sector as a whole.

It is now clear to the flower sector that consumers demand fair labour conditions and measures have been taken to prevent further damage to their image. Importers demand fair labour conditions on their suppliers’ farms and require a guarantee. They visit and audit the flower farms themselves, but increasingly rely on 3rd parties to verify if labour conditions are indeed fair.

Auditing by third parties is already a common procedure in the flower sector. Certification of several management systems, such as Milieu Project Sierteelt (MPS), are invaluable to most flower farms. Auditing on labour conditions was thus a logical step for the sector.

The following certificates for fair labour conditions are available: Max Havelaar, FLO (Fair Trade), Flower Label Programme (FLP), Fair Flowers and Plants (FFP), MPS Socially Qualified (MPS-SQ), Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI) and SA 8000.

These certification schemes differ in product coverage, countries where the certified products are sold, labelling options and, of course, standards. The table below shows the number of companies that have obtained each certificate regarding fair labour conditions.

For more information, see Kasper Kervers’ complete article on Horticom