Nuts and oils

Fairtrade covers a wide range of nuts, seeds and pitted fruits that can be eaten whole or processed into oils for cooking and cosmetics.

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Khan is a farmer at the Fairtrade certified Savai'i Coconut Farmers Association, Samoa.
Image © Josh Griggs

They range from olives to peanuts, cashews, sesame seeds, and soya beans. Some, like wild-growing shea nuts, are collected by associations of gatherers. Others, like coconuts, can be harvested on small-scale farms and at plantations.

Choosing Fairtrade nuts and oils makes a difference

Fairtrade works with a great diversity of producer organizations harvesting nuts, oilseeds and oleaginous fruits – small-scale farmers, plantation workers, and some contract workers are all involved in this product category. From Fiji to Nicaragua, and Benin to Pakistan, one commonality among nut and oil producers is that despite soaring global demand for their products, these farmers and workers too often struggle to make a decent living.

For some producers, remoteness presents logistical challenges. Brazil nuts, for instance, grow naturally in sections of the Amazon rainforest. Gatherers must first collect the fruits as they fall from trees, then extract the seed nuts from the fruit, dry and sort them, and finally transport them in small boats or by foot out of the forest to ports. By offering stable prices and a viable outlet for their product, Fairtrade helps encourage these remote communities to protect their areas from logging and deforestation. By avoiding the switch to monoculture crops like palm oil, this can also help to preserve biodiversity.

For olive growing cooperatives in Palestine, Fairtrade has meant of modicum of stability in uncertain times, connecting growers with export markets even as Israeli authorities threatened to uproot their trees.

Participation in Fairtrade also empowers nut and oil producers through access to advance credit and the extra funds from the Fairtrade Premium. Nut and oil producers have been able to invest in quality improvements and processing facilities that allow them to capture a greater share of the revenues from their harvests.

Other benefits of the Fairtrade approach include:

  • The Fairtrade Minimum Price is the minimum that producers are paid when selling their products through Fairtrade. It aims to cover the average costs of sustainably producing their goods and acts as a safety net when market prices drop. Producers can get the market price when this is higher and can always negotiate for more.

  • The Fairtrade Premium is an extra sum of money paid on top of the selling price that farmers or workers invest in projects of their choice. They decide together how to spend the Fairtrade Premium to reach their goals, such as improving their farming, businesses, or health and education in their community.

  • The Fairtrade Standards are the requirements that producers and the businesses who buy their goods have to meet for a product to be Fairtrade certified. The Standards ensure fairer terms of trade between farmers and buyers, protect workers’ rights, and provide the framework for producers to build thriving farms and organizations.

For many nut and oil products, there is also an after-market in derivatives. For example, coconuts yield not just the fruit or milk, but also their water, husks, and shells – all of which can be sold by producers who receive a Fairtrade Premium on these secondary products, too.

Whether for snacking, cooking or soothing your skin, nuts and oils are unsung parts of our daily routines. By shopping for Fairtrade nuts and oils, you support a stable and sustainable livelihood for the farmers and workers behind these essential goods.

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Two women collecting olives at the Palestine Fair Trade Producers Company
Image © Chiraz Skhiri

Looking for Fairtrade Products?

Fairtrade products are widely available. The blue countries and territories on the map below have Fairtrade organizations that promote Fairtrade products. Their websites often include a product finder to show you the full variety of Fairtrade products near you. Even if there isn't a Fairtrade organization where you live, Fairtrade products may still be available – look for our familiar marks on products!