Fairtrade Finland’s newly published certification Standard aims to solve the problems of the wild berry industry 

Fairtrade Finland has published new certification Standard to address the human rights issues related to wild berry picking. The new Standard reduces the pickers' financial risks, puts more responsibility on the berry companies and demands employment relationships, among other issues. The Standard also requires transparency and fairness across the whole supply chain, increasing accountability in the industry.

Fairtrade Finland’s newly published certification Standard for wild berries tackles the problems of the berry industry in Finland. Based on extensive criteria work, the 61 Fairtrade certification Standard for wild berries aims to prevent human rights risks in the industry by addressing the recruitment practices and working conditions of the pickers.

The Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland has also intervened in the grievances related to the berry picking industry, suspending the Schengen visa applications in Thailand for wild berry pickers aiming to come to Finland. The Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment has stated that it is preparing new legislation, based on which wild berry pickers can come to Finland for seasonal employment starting in the 2025 harvest season.

The Fairtrade Standard will require employment relationships and compliance with the Collective Bargaining Agreement in the picking of wild berries as well as fair recruitment practices, training for pickers, decent working and living conditions, and enabling the workers’ right to organise. The Fairtrade operating model will reduce the financial risks of the pickers who are in a vulnerable position when they come for migrant work, while also increasing the responsibility of berry companies, and requiring human rights due diligence. The new criteria will enable transparency and fair cost sharing among all the companies in the supply chain.

”By complying with Fairtrade’s detailed Standard and guidelines, the companies can update the way that the berry pickers are treated to the level that is the norm in other industries in Finland – and which Fairtrade also requires from the companies operating in Africa, for example,” says Fairtrade Finland’s Executive Director Janne Sivonen.

The Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment emphasizes the importance of the concrete steps taken by the wild berry industry towards more responsible operations.

”In addition to the changes in the law, ending the exploitation of the foreign berry pickers will also require responsibility work by the berry companies. As the authorities, we will support the industry in strengthening responsibility in accordance with the action plan for the prevention of labour exploitation,” says Ariann Grandell, Senior Specialist at the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment.

New Standard to root out forced labour

One of the problems in the industry has been that the foreign pickers get into debt even before arriving in Finland due to recruitment fees and travel expenses. Fairtrade Finland does not accept this practice which goes against international norms. Instead, Fairtrade Finland requires that the employer pays all the costs arising from the recruitment. This means observance of the so-called Employer Pays Principle, which is included in the guidelines of the International Labour Organization as well as in the Amfori BSCI principles widely used by Finnish companies.


According to The European Institute for Crime Prevention and Control (HEUNI), which was one of the advisers in the berry Standard work, the Fairtrade berry criteria Standard is a concrete initiative that offers practical measures to prevent the structural risks of human trafficking and forced labour in the wild berry industry.

”When implemented, the Employer Pays Principle would effectively reduce the vulnerable position and dependency of the pickers as the employer would cover the costs related to the picker’s recruitment,” says HEUNI’s Sustainability Specialist Saara Haapasaari.

Changes expected across the whole supply chain

Fairtrade Finland organised an international consultation round on the new wild berry Standard. To try to solve the challenges of the supply chain as comprehensively as possible, a broad and multidisciplinary set of stakeholders was consulted in the creation of the certification Standard, ranging from the pickers to the companies and authorities.

The responsible operating model will require major changes by the berry companies and also increase their costs.

”It is important that the retailersand the food industry also update their procurement practices and prices in a way that enables the realization of the pickers’ rights. The recently enacted EU Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive obliges companies to human rights due diligence in the supply chain,” says Janne Sivonen. There is a plan for limited practical testing of the wild berry Standard already this summer, but its implementation is not confirmed yet. In 2025, the Standard will be updated and become available to all the companies that meet the requirements.


For more information, please contact

Janne Sivonen

Executive Director

+358 44 356 9369