Launched in 1988 in the Netherlands to free the producers of the Countries of the South from their dependence on market prices and intermediaries, Max Havelaar (Max Havelaar/FLO) was the first global Fair Trade label. Today, more than 7 million producers benefit from it in sixty countries.

Initially focusing exclusively on coffee, the Fairtrade label today covers foodstuffs (sugar, chocolate, honey, rice, etc.) and increasingly non-foodstuffs (cut flowers, footballs, alcohol, cotton, etc.). Among the guarantees given to the consumer, Fairtrade ensures that the contractual relations between producers and exporters or importers are formalised: The latter must pay a guaranteed minimum price, a development premium and a payment advance and enter into a long-term contract. Fairtrade also ensures observance of working conditions (no forced labour, no child labour, freedom of association and collective negotiation, etc.). Finally, it ensures observance of ecological criteria, including a ban on GMOs. With 33 other national Fairtrade labelling organisations, Fairtrade Belgium is a member of Fairtrade International.
The mission of this umbrella organisation is to define international fair trade standards. Since 2003, certification is entrusted to FLO-Cert, a company owned by FLO International and certified under the ISO 65 international standard.