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Behind the Terms: Fair Trade vs. Direct Trade

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It’s Fair Trade Month! To honor this special month, we’re exploring and explaining two common terms you’ll find on food packaging. If you’ve ever wondered “What’s the difference between fair trade and direct trade?” – this post is for you! 

Fair Trade

When you see Fair Trade on a package, it means that the item is produced and sold in a way that prioritizes respect for people and the environment at every step of the supply chain. The producers were paid a premium for their work, and the price prioritizes the health of people and the environment where it came from. 

At Imperfect, we’re proud to sell Tony’s Chocolonely, a Fair Trade chocolate focused on eliminating exploitative child labor practices in the chocolate industry and paying producers a better price for their cocoa. We also offer Fair Trade bars from Alter Eco, a company focused on investing in regenerative organic farming and eliminating waste, two goals near and dear to us at Imperfect. 

It’s also worth noting that while coffee and chocolate are some of the most common Fair Trade goods you might see, there are many more out there. We’re proud to buy tomatoes from Wholesum, the first U.S. grower to be Fair Trade certified! We also get some of our cherry tomatoes and hot peppers from Jacobs Del Cabo, who are committed to inspiring Fair Trade growing practices in Mexico as well. 

Direct Trade 

Direct Trade is a term you’ll see most often on coffee labels that signifies an investment in transparent supply chains and a superior quality product. Direct Trade sourcing cuts out middle people to build long-term relationships with coffee growers. This ensures that growers are more successful economically and the coffee they grow is of the highest possible quality. Unlike Fair Trade, there’s no certification or seal of approval for Direct Trade – it’s more of a sourcing style that you’ll see individual companies committing to as part of their business model. 

We sell exceptional coffee from Intelligentsia that’s sourced via the Direct Trade model. Other coffee brands that practice Direct Trade include Stumptown and Counter Culture

When it comes to shopping for items that align with your values, knowledge is power. We’re proud to offer Fair Trade and Direct Trade products as part of our commitment to building a better food system. Thanks for being part of our mission, one chocolate bar and cup of coffee at a time! 


  • Ann Engler
    October 25, 2020 at 7:51 pm

    Loved the ‘chocolate’ in last weeks shopping cart – sorry it’s not available this week!

  • Karen Franklin
    February 24, 2021 at 11:42 pm

    Love the Sumptom Cold Brew

    • Imperfect
      March 2, 2021 at 8:41 pm

      Stumptown Cold Brew is the BEST! 😍

  • Iisa
    September 30, 2021 at 2:22 am

    Please bring back the alter Eco dark chocolate salted caramel truffles

    • Imperfect
      September 30, 2021 at 6:17 pm

      We’ll pass it along to our team and definitely keep an eye out for them in the meantime! 💚


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