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Code of Conduct for Organic Trade

IFOAM Code of Conduct for Organic Trade

Basic Principles

The following text, from the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM-Organics International), is included here as a resource. IFOAM circulated the code for a few years at the beginning to the 2000s, but never got enough sign on to consider the project a success. Perhaps that is a comment on purely voluntary codes for for-profit businesses.


The Code of Conduct for Organic Trade is a starting point from which organic companies can work together to improve conditions of trade for all its members. The principles set out in the code were developed through a process of discussion with a range of organic actors around the world, and represent what organic trade should be about. Organizations are not expected to meet all of the principles, either upon signing up for the code or once actively participating in it, and there is no level of compliance needed before a company can begin to work with the code. Rather, the code is designed to be a gradual process, enabling shared learning between trading partners and exchanges of experiences between organic companies as to how the code can be implemented across a range of specific organizational and trade contexts. There is no right or wrong way to start implementing the code; the accompanying documents are intended to be used as guidelines only and are designed to enable your organization to measure its achievements over time.

Commitment to Social Justice in Organic Agriculture: Social Justice is an integral part of organic agriculture and trade. Organizations commit to incorporate social justice principles into their every day activities.

Transparency and Accountability of Negotiations: Trade negotiations in the organic supply chain are conducted in an open and transparent manner allowing for shared accountability between trading partners.

Trading Relationships: Direct and long-term trading relationships, based on trust and mutual respect, are encouraged between trading partners

Equitable Distribution of Returns: All supply chain partners are able to cover costs and receive fair remuneration for their efforts through prices that reflect the true value of the product. Risk sharing mechanisms are actively encouraged.

Communication and Information flow: Supply chain partners communicate openly with each other showing a willingness to share information. Trading partners work together to ensure that producer demands for market information are met and that consumers can access information about how organic products are produced and verified.

Skills development and Capacity Building: Trade-related skills development and social justice oriented capacity building are facilitated through learning exchanges between trading partners.

Internal ethics: The principles of social justice within organic agriculture are integrated within each organization and are expressed through responsible relationships with employees and/or members, the local community and the environment.

Supporting the Organic Community: Supply chain organizations support their local organic communities and contribute to the growth of the global organic movement.