Frequently Asked Questions
Below, we have tried our best to answer the most important and frequently asked questions regarding FLOCERT and our core business, certification. However, if we have not answered your question, don’t hesitate to contact us and ask directly. Thank you for your interest!
FLOCERT's Frequently Asked Questions answered
FLOCERT is one of the world’s leading social auditing and certification bodies. We verify your company’s performance against Fairtrade and a number of other standards. We provide assurance solutions tailored to your company’s needs, based on state-of-the-art technology. By choosing FLOCERT you’re guaranteed:
- Efficient service of the highest quality: FLOCERT provides correct, impartial and highly credible information, taking great care to ensure that we gather and deliver information in a lean, service-focused and understandable way. Additionally, FLOCERT is ISO 17065-accredited, which demonstrates that we meet the highest international quality standards for product certification. For more information on this, please see Accreditation and Data Governance.
- One-stop-shop solutions: One certification body oversees your entire supply chain(s) worldwide. As a "one-stop-shop", we can offer you the full spectrum of assurance services – enabling you to save time and money.
- Great customer service and fast response times: Inquiries are processed as fast as possible.
- To work with dedicated, motivated staff: FLOCERT is different – which directly benefits you. As a “social business”, FLOCERT is mission-driven and dedicated to making trade fairer on a global level. We don’t focus on profit but on success – aiming only to cover our costs, while providing the resources needed to continuously improve our services and system. We highly value being credible, innovative and human-focused – always. We cherish diversity and treat all of our customers equally. To learn more about what those terms mean for us and why we consider them to be important, please check our mission, vision and values.
If you have any doubts about your level of compliance, you can take an initial check yourself, right here on the website, using the Fairtrade Compliance Criteria checklist for a good first indication of where you stand in regard to the Fairtrade Standard. Find more information on the requirements and the application process at How to join Fairtrade.
As the official Fairtrade certifier, FLOCERT works with all producer organisations, hired labour organisations, traders, manufacturers of agricultural goods or textiles, small-scale mining organisations, multinational brands and retailers within the Fairtrade system.
True to our Fairtrade heritage, FLOCERT provides Customised Assurance solutions for all types of organisations openly committed to sustainability goals. In close alignment with Fairtrade, we take up mandates if they focus on improving the living conditions of farmers and workers in global supply chains. We check each inquiry against our mission and vision as a social business.
At FLOCERT, we follow the guidelines of the standard owners, whose standard we audit. The term “certification” is mostly used for so-called voluntary standards (where third party certification is implicit), while “verification” is mostly used to audit private codes (where, besides third party verification, first and second party verification can play a role, depending on the code owner’s decision).
This means that we:
• certify those standards called Certification Standards (e.g. Fairtrade),
• verify private company codes or sector codes.
Each has its own specific focus:
- Fairtrade is one of the world's best-known and most successful Standards for improving ethical performance across supply chains. See Fairtrade Overview for more information.
- EDGE (Equity, Diversity, and Gender Equality) is the leading global assessment methodology and business certification standard for gender equality. See EDGE Certification for more information.
- Social Audits, established by the Ethical Trade Initiative (ETI), are based on the ETI Base Code. This comprises nine core principles, such as collective bargaining, safe working conditions and living wages. Together, these principles reflect the global understanding of fair and good working conditions as set by the International Labour Organization (ILO). See Social Audits for more information.
FLOCERT is the independent certification body auditing and certifying all actors within Fairtrade supply chains. It is owned by Fairtrade International.
Fairtrade International is an umbrella organisation for all National Fairtrade Organisations (NFOs). Fairtrade International sets the Fairtrade Standards, coordinates activities for the members, and owns the Fairtrade Mark. It is owned 50% by the Producer Networks and 50% by the NFOs.
The National Fairtrade Organisations are labelling initiatives for their local markets. An NFO administrates the licensing of products sold on their market, i.e. they deal with the permission to use the Fairtrade Mark on a finished consumer-ready product. The labelling initiatives also market and promote Fairtrade towards the end consumer.
The three Producer Networks (Fairtrade Africa, the Latin American and Caribbean Network of Fair Trade Small Producers and Workers [CLAC], and the Network of Asia and Pacific Producers [NAPP]) represent and support producers all over the world.
Our Fairtrade Customer Search helps you find Fairtrade-certified organisations, along with information on location, products, and their role within the Fairtrade system.
We also offer Customised Assurance services. This means that we can help you tailor-make your own set of standards and best practices. And if you already have your own code of conduct or programme, we can help evaluate and develop it, by strengthening the overall scope or adjusting specific criteria to meet corporate social responsibility standards.
In order for a company to become Fairtrade-certified, FLOCERT performs an onsite audit. At producer level, this includes checking facilities, participating in meetings, and holding confidential interviews with farmers and workers. Agricultural methods are also checked and relevant documents reviewed. For traders, the audit is focused on traceability and Fairtrade transactions. After the audit, a FLOCERT analyst evaluates compliance with the Fairtrade Standards and requests Corrective Measures if any Non-Conformities are found. Once all Non-Conformities have been resolved, an official Fairtrade certificate is issued. Read more about the certification process here.
The credibility of the Fairtrade Mark is substantiated by FLOCERT as a reliable and independent certification body. We hold ISO 17065 accreditation, which ensures autonomous, transparent and independent certification decisions. ISO 17065 is the globally accepted accreditation norm for certification bodies. Additionally, FLOCERT's Quality Management continuously works on improving the system and is a contact point for complaints or reporting allegations. Read up on our quality management policies here.
To ensure auditor competence, quality and credibility, the following rules apply:
- Auditors are trained extensively and regularly.
- FLOCERT – not the customer – decides which auditor to send to an audit.
- Auditors do not audit the same customer more than three times in a row.
- Auditors are paid by FLOCERT, not by the customer.
- Auditors get paid no matter what the outcome of an audit is. There in no incentive to find – or not find – Non-Conformities.
- Audit reports are fully documented.
- The auditors’ work is examined by the independent accreditation body, DAkkS.
FLOCERT has a technical solution in place, used by Fairtrade-certified companies to report and verify their traded Fairtrade volumes. The companies in the supply chain responsible for paying the Fairtrade Price and Premium report their payments. An automated alert in the technical platform flags potential issues to FLOCERT in real time. In addition, payments are checked during FLOCERT's audits by the auditor via interviews and documents (such as contracts, shipping papers, invoices, and bank receipts). To find out more about our audits, please click here.
FLOCERT welcomes our customers' feedback. We are committed to providing a credible and transparent service and dealing fairly with queries regarding our decisions, the conduct of FLOCERT staff, auditors, or any of our customers.
If you have a complaint, please find further information here.
All appeals, review requests, allegations and complaints submitted to FLOCERT are investigated. They are handled with the utmost confidentiality and we take all precautions to avoid any conflicts of interest in our decision-making.
FLOCERT is supervised by the German national accreditation body DAkkS and the Standard-setting organisation, Fairtrade International. If you feel that your complaint, allegation or appeal was handled inappropriately, please contact either of these bodies.
A Non-Conformity is a non-fulfilment of a specific requirement of the Fairtrade Standards. If an auditor finds a Non-Conformity, the organisation is required to propose suitable Corrective Measures. FLOCERT follows up on these Corrective Measures to make sure they are fulfilled. Certification is not confirmed or granted until the organisation can demonstrate full compliance. Depending on the severity of the observed Non-Conformity, it can be sanctioned by a suspension or a decertification.
Aligned with the Fairtrade mission, our certification fees are structured to enable participation and empowerment for all trading partners. Fairtrade Certification costs depend on various factors, but generally the size of your organisation and the role you play in the Fairtrade system, as well as the number of products you want to certify.
To see what the fee would be for your specific company, please use our online cost calculator.
Yes. Certification is mandatory for every producer and company involved in the supply chain of a Fairtrade product, from its growth or extraction until the product is packaged for consumers. Every farmer, trader, processor and manufacturer must be certified for the end product to carry the Fairtrade Mark. This allows for transparency throughout the product supply chain.