The list of ethically traded products, and those carrying the Fairtrade mark, go way beyond tea and coffee. Ranges have been extended to include myriads of fresh fruit and vegetables, cakes, biscuits, jams, spices, wine, roses, footballs and clothing made from fair trade cotton.
However, a recent study by brand agency Dragon discovered that consumers were unaware of the full range of products available. Asked what products they associated with fair trade, tea, coffee and chocolate were the spontaneous answers; however, they needed heavy prompting before mentioning rice, cereal, sugar and fruit.
The study also discovered that most people’s awareness of the core issue of fair trade stemmed from television or newspapers, rather than retailers.
Retailers clearly have a considerable amount of ground still to cover in terms of familiarising consumers with the concept of fair trade and the range of products available - particularly as nearly all the major supermarkets have now launched their own fair trade lines.
Mark Varney, business development manager at the Fairtrade Foundation, says: “Visibility for Fairtrade products is crucial. Respondents in focus groups say that they would buy Fairtrade products but cannot always locate them in store.”
Events such as Fairtrade Fortnight help to teach retailers how better to convey the Fairtrade message and the Fairtrade Foundation has embarked on a muscular campaign this year to get as many retailers involved as possible. Varney adds: “The Fairtrade Foundation can help businesses in many ways. Our aim is to make them more visible and available in as many outlets as possible.”
One retailer that won’t be needing too much guidance is The Co-operative Group, which led the way in bringing fair trade to the mainstream grocery sector. With more than 126 different lines, its range is wider than any other retailer’s. Last year it launched a further 20 lines.
According to The Co-operative Group, sales of fair trade products grew 25% year-on-year, representing a doubling of sales value since 2003. This year, the retailer is pulling out all the stops to support Fairtrade Fortnight and is launching five new Co-op Fair Trade wines from South Africa. A 20% discount will be running on both its own label and branded Fairtrade products.
Tesco says Fairtrade remains high on its agenda and admits that it plans to launch new own label products during next month’s Fairtrade Fortnight.
Meanwhile, Waitrose has been working hard to push the Fairtrade message. It has developed PoS material, posters and leaflets to support its growing range of products. A spokeswoman for Waitrose says: “Our Fairtrade lines are proving very popular - sales of pre-packed Fairtrade bananas have grown 30% in six months.”
Easter is set to be the next big mark on the Fairtrade calendar, with chocolate companies set for a major promotional push. Green and Black’s will celebrate with its new Maya Gold Easter Egg. And The Day Chocolate Company will launch its new Divine 70% cocoa egg and Dubble Easter egg for children.