BfG News Issue 19 - Expert View: Tipping the balance

19 Mar 2009|Added Value

Each month News invites an expert to give us their view on a topical issue.  Barbara Crowther, Director of Communications and Policy, at the Fairtrade Foundation, shares the 5-year strategic plan for the non-profit organisation.

We’ve just ended another amazing Fairtrade Fortnight. The good news is that despite the current economic situation, we have been able to report growth of 43% in the estimated retail value of Fairtrade sales. But if times are tough for us here, they’re desperate for smallholders, caught between rising food and fuel prices, and a credit crunch that means whilst our banks are being bailed out, theirs are closing their doors.  Fairtrade is needed now more than ever – and we’re delighted that so many thousands of people across the UK continue to support Fairtrade and choose products with the FAIRTRADE Mark. 

The theme for this year’s Fairtrade Fortnight was Make it Happen. Choose Fairtrade. This urgent call is pertinent this year as the Fairtrade Foundation is one year into its ambitious five-year strategy, Tipping the Balance, which aims, by 2012, to enable twice as many producers to be benefiting from selling Fairtrade goods in the UK, while those already supplying the UK market should be able to double the proportion of the crop they sell through the Fairtrade system.

Fairtrade Fortnight presented companies with a unique opportunity to market Fairtrade by improving visibility at point-of-sale, extending their range of Fairtrade certified products, or in the case of the UK’s favourite chocolate bar, Cadbury’s Dairy Milk, committing to Fairtrade certification by the end of Summer 2009.

There are now more than 4,500 FAIRTRADE Mark products certified, over a wide range of product categories. This is expected to include olive oil and cosmetics in the coming year as the Tipping the Balance strategy aims to increase sales four-fold by 2012, partly through the introduction of new product categories.

Bananas continue to be a best-selling Fairtrade product and one in four bananas sold in the UK are now Fairtrade.  Other major commercial developments during 2008 included: Tate & Lyle’s retail cane sugar range will be entirely Fairtrade by 2010; Starbucks espresso-based coffees including its cappuccino, caffe latte and other espresso-based beverages will all be Fairtrade certified by the end of 2009; the Co-operative switched its entire own brand hot beverage category – worth over £16 million annually – to Fairtrade, including its 99Tea; Sir Steve Redgrave launched a range of Fairtrade certified cotton menswear Five G in Debenhams and new Fairtrade certified cotton lines were launched in Top Shop and Top Man; Sainsbury’s switched 95% of their own label tea to Fairtrade and over the next three years, their entire range of roast and ground coffee will move to Fairtrade; and Harry Hill, a long term supporter of Fairtrade, launched his own range of Fairtrade salted peanuts and cashew nuts with 100% Fairtrade nut company Liberation.

We believe that Fairtrade enables companies to put value back into products and engage the public’s interest in attributes beyond price. By nurturing sustainable supply chains, businesses can not only secure long-term quality relationships with their suppliers, but are also responding to consumer demand which shows people want to buy products carrying the FAIRTRADE Mark more regularly if it was made available. And our research confirms this. Despite feeling the pinch, 92% of consumers still claimed to be willing to pay extra for a product perceived to be ethical and, Fairtrade was a shopper’s favoured type of ethical product.

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