The problems experienced by marginalised producers and workers in developing countries differ greatly from product to product. The majority of Fairtrade coffee and cocoa, for example, is grown by independent small farmers, working their own land and marketing their produce through a local co-operative. For these producers, receiving a fair price for their beans is very important. Most Fairtrade tea, however, is grown on estates. The primary concern for workers employed on tea plantations is fair wages and decent working conditions.
To address this there are two sets of generic producer standards; one for small farmers and one for workers on plantations and in factories. The first set applies to smallholders organised in co-operatives or other organisations with a democratic, participative structure. The second set applies to organised workers, whose employers commit to paying decent wages, guaranteeing the right to join trade unions and providing good housing when relevant. In all circumstances, minimum health and safety as well as environmental standards must be complied with, and no child or forced labour can occur.
As Fairtrade is also about development, the generic standards distinguish between minimum requirements which producers must meet to be certified Fairtrade and process requirements, which encourage producer organisations to continuously improve working conditions and product quality, to increase their environmental stability of their activities and to invest in the development of their organisations and the welfare of their producers/workers.