Fairtrade Foundation Commercial Conference 2011 round-up (Oct 2011)
Updates and Sector News
by Ekobai Contributor, Fairtrade Market
Sustainability was the theme of this year’s Fairtrade Foundation Commercial Conference. It considered what businesses and fairtrade organisations need to do evolve to meet the challenges of food security and climate change – as well as to grow their fairtrade business.
The Fairtrade Foundation’s deputy executive director Mike Gidney presented some interesting data from a recently commissioned Globescan report which revealed that 75% of consumers in the UK said they were more likely to buy a branded product carrying the Fairtrade Certified Mark. The report also showed that the Fairtrade label enjoys more ‘trust’ amongst consumers than the Rainforest Alliance Certified Logo and Soil Association certification.
However, another speaker pointed out that the 75% statistic bears little resemblance to the market reality, where Fairtrade-certified products in the UK only claim a small share of around 3%. A figure of between 30-40% was quoted for the number of potential ethical consumers in the country, but who for various reasons do not yet express their ethics in their purchasing habits. And it was agreed that while the Fairtrade Foundation had done admirable work in raising brand awareness for the Fairtrade Label a lot more needed to be done by the Foundation, fair trade organisations and businesses to engage and convert these consumers. In much the same way recycling has become mainstream in recent years, making buying fairtrade ‘normal’ is the biggest goal for all concerned. This means making it as easy as possible for consumers to access affordable fairtrade goods.
Promising figures came from Nick Bunker, President of Kraft Foods in the UK and Ireland, who revealed that his company has seen a surge in sales for Cadbury’s Fairtrade Dairy Milk since its Fairtrade certification (500 million bars sold since the Fairtrade chocolate launched).
Ashish Deo, Commercial Director of the Fairtrade Foundation gave a presentation on the Foundation’s performance over the last year and its plans for the future. He said they expected double-digit growth in 2011 and were preparing to launch Fairtrade shrimp in 2012, as well as looking at blended fabrics made using fairtrade cotton.
Difficult questions about Fair Trade USA and Fairtrade Labelling Organisation’s split were also raised at this year’s Fairtrade conference.
The full implications of the split are yet to be understood as the two organisations will not be officially parting company until the New Year – and much has to be done to ensure the best transition for fair trade producers and businesses.
The Fairtrade Foundation Commercial Conference took place in London on 5 October.
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