Despite impressive sales figures, expanding ranges, and heavyweight marketing and PR, fair trade remains a surprisingly slow burning concept - so it is often dubbed the "quiet revolution".
Certainly the retailers at Batleys cash and carry in Southampton could have done with some more briefing on the subject. "I hardly know anything about it, and I don't think that my customers do either. To be honest I'm not really that interested in it," says Lisa Jones, who owns a Stop and Shop convenience store with a small fresh fruit and vegetable offering on the south coast.
In fact, the retailers that we spoke to expressed genuine surprise when they were told that there were currently more than 1,500 different products under the Fairtrade brand available on the market.
In the sort of comment that would send the Fairtrade Foundation into a blue funk, Jones says she thought the label was just something that appeared on bananas.
Fairly traded products are designed to pass on more benefits from sales to producers, often in poorer areas of the world, and have become something of an ethical hot potato for many retailers. While the major supermarkets have welcomed the idea of fair trade with open arms, even launching own label fair trade ranges, many independent retailers appear to be less enthusiastic.
All of the retailers that we spoke to displayed a general low awareness of the concept. None were aware of the Fairtrade Foundation's Fairtrade Fortnight currently under way, and were doing nothing to promote it as a result.
In addition, none of the retailers that we spoke to stocked any Fairtrade-certified products or were able to describe what the Fairtrade mark looked like. "I hardly know anything about the Fairtrade brand," says Mr Narula, who owns JK Supermarket on Hayling Island and shops at the Batleys depot in Southampton twice a week. "I probably would stock a few lines if my customers were interested, but to be honest I don't think they are. It all depends on your customer profile and I have certainly never been asked about it."
However, Nigel Cox, joint owner of Dash & Cox, a CTN store in Gosport, made it clear that he wholeheartedly supported the ethos of fair trade, saying: "I have heard a little bit about it from the television and the papers and I do think that the concept is a good one.
"The retail industry is constantly changing and it is important to move with the times, but clearly there is a lot more that needs to be done to raise awareness, both for retailers and consumers."
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