Fair Trade USA Launches First-Of-Its-Kind Certification Program for U.S. Dairy Industry

Chobani debuts first-ever Fair Trade Certified dairy items on national retail shelves
May 6, 2021 10:00 AM ET
Press Release

OAKLAND, Calif. May 6, 2021 /3BL Media/ — Fair Trade USA® and Chobani, LLC have launched a groundbreaking certification program for U.S. dairy farms and cooperatives that provides financial premiums to dairy farmers and workers, which will help protect and empower them while raising sustainability standards.

The announcement is an outgrowth of Fair Trade USA’s partnership with Chobani, which announced its Milk Matters™ program in 2019 to further its commitment to support economic, environmental, and social standards throughout the company’s milk supply chain. The fair trade certification program is available to milk producers throughout the U.S.

Chobani is releasing Fair Trade Certified™ Greek yogurt versions for all of its 32oz, multi-serve tubs, including Whole Milk Plain, Low Fat Plain, Non-Fat Plain, Strawberry Blended and Vanilla Blended. Chobani’s Fair Trade Certified™ yogurt products are sold nationally at all major grocery and retail stores and are produced at Chobani’s Twin Falls, ID, and South Edmeston, NY, production facilities. Chobani plans to expand the certification to other products.

Fair Trade Certification provides farm owners and cooperatives with an opportunity to differentiate, increase engagement with consumers, and receive a financial premium for their investments. Certification also provides greater support for farm workers in an industry that can face challenges in workforce availability, working hours, and farm safety. An immigrant workforce, which makes up an estimated half of the U.S. dairy workforce and is especially vulnerable to these issues because of limited legal protections, will also benefit from Fair Trade USA’s new dairy program. In collaboration with experts and organizations already working in the space, Fair Trade USA plans to develop an environmental component to this program which will address the unique challenges of the dairy industry.

“I come from a farming family and I worked at a dairy farm in Upstate New York, so I know firsthand the magic of the dairy industry, but it’s hard work and farm families face many challenges in today’s marketplace,” said Hamdi Ulukaya, Founder and CEO of Chobani. “Fair Trade USA’s certification — the first ever in the U.S. dairy industry — will help our dairy farmers build on their hard work to raise farming standards, take care of their workers, many of whom they consider family, ensure the well-being of their animals and their land, while giving consumers greater peace of mind that the dairy they buy demonstrates a commitment to positive economic, environmental, and social pillars.”

“Fair trade is often associated with commodities like coffee, cocoa and textiles produced in the Global South, and not as known within agricultural and farming operations here in America,” said Paul Rice, CEO, Fair Trade USA. “We believe in bringing the benefits of fair trade to as many in the industry as possible to create impact. Today, that opportunity is in the U.S. dairy sector. The rigorous, time-tested standards, certification systems, and training programs we’ve developed to protect and empower producers, workers, and their communities around the globe will now deliver value to the U.S. dairy producers and workers. We are thrilled to partner with ethically-minded companies like Chobani to bring certified product to the market so consumers have more conscious dairy options.”

Since 1998, Fair Trade producers in more than 45 countries have earned more than $465 million in Community Development Funds, which they have used to address their communities’ greatest needs, including enhanced safety, environmental protection, education, health care and clean water. The Fair Trade Certified™ seal spans more than 30 product categories and can be found in nearly every aisle of the grocery store and beyond.

As part of Chobani’s Milk Matters™ initiative, Fair Trade USA initiated a pilot program with dairy farms and cooperatives in New York and Idaho to determine how the organization’s Agricultural Production Standard (APS) - used for certification of a wide range of crop and farm settings around the world - could be applied to the dairy industry. The end result - a version of the APS modified for the dairy industry - is now being offered to all dairy farms and cooperatives throughout the United States.

Fair Trade USA’s APS incorporates standards and processes developed by the globally-recognized International Labor Organization (ILO). Fair Trade USA is also a member of ISEAL, the international organization driving the advancement of collaborative and transparent sustainability solutions.

The fair trade certification process involves a series of modules that incorporate systems, operations, implementation, and auditing of Fair Trade USA’s APS that are designed to ensure product traceability, supply chain transparency and implementation of an Internal Management System to monitor compliance and progress. The Standard also serves as a foundation to ensure safe work conditions, freedom of association, protections against harassment and discrimination, provision of benefits, clear terms of employment and pay slips, reasonable working hours, safe and sanitary housing conditions, and increased access to on-the-job training.

The certification process typically takes six to nine months to complete, and, when certified, milk buyers are authorized to promote their products using the widely-recognized Fair Trade Certified seal. When Fair Trade Certified milk is purchased, buyers pay an extra amount – the Fair Trade Premium – which is allocated to a Community Development Fund. The funds support democratically-selected projects and on-farm investments that enhance the working environment. A portion of the funds are also available to support investments required to come into compliance with the Fair Trade Standard and projects to deliver on the goals and intentions of the Fair Trade program.

"In an increasingly diverse and competitive market, we are always looking for opportunities to differentiate our product and demonstrate our commitment to continuous improvement,” said Lisa Ford, Special Projects Manager, Cayuga Marketing LLC. “Fair Trade certification gives us a conduit to demonstrate our ongoing commitment to provide quality milk from members dedicated to furnishing a safe, fair and equitable work environment. The Premium Funds that come with Fair Trade Certified sales will be used to enhance best practices on our certified dairy farms, offer expanded worker training and safety installations, and work to benefit farm worker families and communities."

“Along with care for animals and stewardship of the environment, providing a safe and quality workplace is of critical importance for dairy farmers, their employees and our industry. DFA is proud to work with Fair Trade and Chobani on this innovative pilot. Through this program dairy farmers and dairy farm employees will have access to new resources that can be used to collaborate on impactful initiatives in their businesses and their communities.” – David Darr, Senior Vice President and Chief Strategy & Sustainability Officer, Dairy Farmers of America.

For more information on Fair Trade USA’s dairy certification program, contact Molly Renaldo, Partnerships Manager, at mrenaldo@fairtradeusa.org.

For press inquiries, contact Kasi Martin at kmartin@fairtradecertified.org.

About Fair Trade USA

Fair Trade USA is a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and the leading certifier of fair trade products in North America. Its trusted Fair Trade Certified™ seal on a product signifies that it was made according to rigorous fair trade standards that promote sustainable livelihoods and safe working conditions, protection of the environment, and strong, transparent supply chains. Rather than creating dependency on aid, Fair Trade USA’s model empowers farmers, workers, and fishermen to fight poverty and earn additional money to improve their communities. Winner of Fast Company’s Social Enterprise of the Year Award and recognized as a leading social venture by the Clinton Global Initiative, the Skoll Foundation, and Ashoka, Fair Trade USA also helps brands and retailers tell their stories of impact and educate consumers about the power of their purchase.

About Chobani

Our founding mission is to make “better food for more people.” Chobani disrupted the yogurt category by making higher protein Greek yogurt, with only natural ingredients, accessible and delicious. Over a decade later, Chobani has become America’s No.1 selling Greek yogurt while continuously innovating, launching oatmilks, non-dairy probiotic drinks, dairy- and plant-based creamers, and ready-to-drink coffees. As we elevate nutrition for millions of people, Chobani also uses food as a force for good in the world – putting humanity first in everything we do. Our philanthropic efforts focus on giving a portion of the company’s annual profits to support the needs of our communities. All Chobani products are kosher certified, and are made without any artificial flavors, sweeteners, or preservatives. With manufacturing in New York, Idaho and Australia, Chobani products are available throughout North America and distributed in Asia and Latin America. For more information, please visit www.chobani.com and www.facebook.com/chobani.