Ethical trade

Why Ethical Trade?

Soil Association Ethical Trade standards are an added extra to the Soil Association’s existing organic standards. Businesses certified to the Ethical Trade Standards can use the symbol to help demonstrate to customers that they’ve gone the extra mile.

How does certification work?

Whole supply chain: In order for a product to carry the Ethical Trade symbol, every stage of the supply chain involved in production, processing or adding value to a product must be certified – right from the field to the finished product. This also includes the final product brandholder. This thorough approach means consumers can be confident that everyone involved in making a product has been treated fairly.

Third party certification: Ethical Trade certification is carried out using trained independent third party auditors to ensure the highest levels of integrity.

The audits: Each Ethical Trade audit involves interviews with employees, interviews with management, a site visit and record checks. Information gathered from these sources are cross-checked to ensure that a thorough and accurate assessment can be made.

Can you carry out the Ethical Trade audit at the same time as the organic inspection?

In most cases yes. We always endeavour to combine audits to keep the costs and potential disruption down.

What do you check?

The main areas assessed at an Ethical Trade audit are employment conditions, trading relationships and social and cultural contributions:

  • Fair employment conditions: we check that your employees have good working conditions, both in terms of their working environment and their conditions of employment.
  • Fair trading relationships: we ask to see evidence that trade negotiations are open and transparent, with long-term commitments in place and a fair price agreed.
  • Social and cultural contributions: We ask you to tell us about any activities you’re involved in that bring social or cultural benefits to the wider community. These can include a wide range of activities from having school groups on farms to sponsoring local events. Please see section 70.5 of the standards for further examples.

Do you work with any other certification bodies offering similar schemes?

There are a large number of social justice and/or fair trade schemes available, many of which are striving to achieve the same overall aims and objectives as Soil Association Ethical Trade. We’re working closely with many of these schemes in order to formally recognise them as ‘equivalent’. This will mean that ingredients certified under these schemes could be used in Ethical Trade products. Please contact us for further details of the schemes we’re working with.

Do all the ingredients need to be Ethical Trade certified in order to use the Ethical Trade symbol?

In order for the Ethical Trade symbol to appear on a product, a minimum 70% of the ingredients have to be from an Ethical Trade certified source. You will need to clearly show which ingredients are Ethical Trade certified and which aren’t. Please see section 70.7 of the Soil Association standards for more details.

Do you certify non-organic products to Ethical Trade?

No. Products must be certified organic in order to qualify to apply for the Ethical Trade scheme.

I’m interested in applying, what do I do now?

Please contact Ruth Alderman ralderman@soilassociation.org 0117 314 5111 for more information on the Ethical Trade scheme and how to apply.

Ethical trade


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