Posted by: Charlie | January 15, 2010

Question of the week 1/15: Does the proliferation of product certifications dilute their meaning and effectiveness?

Fair Trade, Rainforest Alliance, Organic, Wild Harvested, Heart Healthy, what do they all really mean? Each certification has different standards and a different emphasis on social, environmental, and labor practices. While certificaitons assure consumers that their purchases are ethically sound, does the proliferation of certifications, especially in the food industry, dilute their meaning and effectiveness?

Multiple certifications can confuse consumers. Consider Fair Trade vs. Rainforest Alliance, their standards are dramatically different. These variations give producers the ability to choose their prefered certification based on service and price, while consumers are left largely in the dark.  Kraft has been a registers Rainforest Alliance member and major donor since 2003. Consumers should ask if Kraft’s donations influences the laxity of the certification.

According to Fairtrade.org, the labeling intends to connect consumers with producers. But with so many labels out there, and businesses choosing their preferred certification, producers may actually be disconnecting from consumers.

I invite you to join the conversation.

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