Since 1988 and the creation of IFAT, the International Fair Trade Association (which, in 2009, became WFTO, the World Fair Trade Organisation) and the launch of the Fairtrade label, two major fair trade regulation systems have emerged and co-existed: the ‘integrated’ system (in particular WFTO and EFTA) and the ‘labelled’ system (in particular Fairtrade International).

The principal characteristic of the integrated system, which was the original fair trade organisation approach, is the fact that all the businesses intervening in the creation and marketing of the product (producers, processors, importers and points of sale) voluntarily abide by fair trade principles. Fair trade businesses trade among themselves in a spirit of cooperation and long-term engagement. They benefit from fair trade certification (usually linked to a logo) for which they have collectively defined rules and criteria (fair prices, transparency, pre-financing, etc. Check the 10 fair trade principles to find out more).

Unlike the integrated supply chain, the labelled system is primarily based on the certification of the product sold. The businesses producing these products undertake to comply with defined specifications and to source their products from organisations of producers in developing countries (often cooperatives) who have been approved by the labelling organisation.
These labelled products can then be marketed at any point of sale, including conventional supermarkets. Several fair trade labels exist and Fair Trade is the best known among these labels.

The coexistence of these two systems illustrates the existence of different visions of fair trade, in particular regarding the type of relationship to be established with private economic players (multinationals, supermarkets) and a vision of development (and denunciation of international trade) on the one hand versus a business approach based on control on the other hand.