Shopping Aisle Conundrum? A Guide to Certification Labels

21 November 2017   |   Kyle Freund, Media Manager, Fairtrade America
Four people shopping in the produce section at an organic market in Washington, DC.

What’s important to you when you step into the supermarket? How do you shop your values? The variety of food labels and certifications can be daunting. This guide can serve as a handy reference to other labels you might find on Fairtrade products.



Many of the companies Fairtrade America works with carry other logos or certifications alongside the FAIRTRADE Mark – things like Gluten-Free, Kosher, or Non-GMO Project Verified. So go grab your shopping list because we’ve put together a handy guide to other certifications and verifications used by some of our Fairtrade partners.


BCorps are about doing business differently and moving beyond profit as the sole motivator. Finding this logo on your products (or on company websites) means that the whole company meets rigorous standards for social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency. Certified companies must prove that they use the power of the market to solve social and environmental problems. There are now nearly 2,000 certified BCorps around the globe and growing (see Ben & Jerry’sThanksgiving CoffeeDhana Inc.)

Non-GMO Project Verified

This little blue box with a butterfly has been popping up more and more as the debate over genetically modified (GMO) products rages on. While one side believes they have a right to know what goes in their food, the other side claims there is no difference between GMO and non-GMO products and so consumers don’t need to know. The Non-GMO Project Verified logo gives you the ability to see which companies have taken steps to avoid GMO ingredients. (See Endangered Species ChocolateNature’s Path, and others)

Gluten Free

While many think that gluten is only found in wheat products, it’s more prevalent than people think, especially if a product comes from a factory that uses wheat as an ingredient in any of its recipes. For people living with Celiac’s disease or who have a gluten sensitivity, the Gluten Free mark helps them navigate grocery store aisles. (See Lily’s SweetsEndangered Species Chocolate)


Kosher certification refers to the types of food Jewish people may eat or the ways they are prepared, including cleanliness, purity and quality. To carry the mark, all products and the processes for preparation must be certified Kosher by a rabbi. (See Kishé coffeeDivine Chocolate)

USDA Organic

Products carrying the USDA Organic label are produced without the use of synthetic fertilizers or pesticides, GMOs or a host of other substances common in conventional agriculture. Consumer interest in organic production has grown dramatically in recent years as consumers have become wary of large-scale industrial agriculture and seek out production methods that are better for the environment and soil. (See Organic IndiaConscious Step SocksNature’s Path)

Vegan Certified

The Vegan certified logo means that products bearing it contain no animal ingredients or animal by-products used in the production. They are also not tested on animals. Vegan Action, the organization authorizing use of the mark, only certifies individual products and not whole companies. Last year, Ben & Jerry’s introduced a vegan-certified non-dairy line. (See also the dark chocolate bars from Endangered Species Chocolate).

Shop Your Values This Year

Every choice you make is a vote for the world you want to live in. There are many ways to shop your values and this list includes just a few of the major certifications and verifications out there. What do you look for when you’re shopping? What label is most important to you? Let us know in the comments below.

Find the full list of products that meet the rigorous Fairtrade International Standards here.

We’re in this together

Fairtrade America partners with brands on the journey to certification and beyond. We can help with everything from finding a certified supply chain to marketing your newly certified product.

Get in Touch

Explore More