Independent retailers continue to snub fair trade products, despite overwhelmingly supporting the initiative in principle, according to The Grocer's reader panel.
Practically every independent retailer spoken to said they supported the idea behind fair trade products - but only one in ten said they stocked any such items in their stores.
That was despite one in eight of store owners quizzed agreeing that fair trade goods were becoming more popular. The findings will make disappointing reading for the Fairtrade Foundation as it winds up this year's Fairtrade Fortnight campaign tomorrow (March 19). It boasts that sales of products with the Fairtrade mark are now running at a rate of £200m a year, growing 40% in 2005.
But it seems that its myriad of successes in the multiples, with ever more products offered, has certainly not translated to the independent stores in question.
Most disappointing for the Fairtrade Foundation will be that many shop owners did not know anything about fair trade products. And many were confused between Fairtrade and other fair trade marks, which led to some answers of 'don't know' when asked if they stocked Fairtrade-endorsed products.
Meanwhile, more than half (56%) of those who did not stock fair trade products said it was because there was either no encouragement or availability from their wholesaler, while the remainder claimed there was no demand from customers.
One retailer said that he didn't know whether fair trade products were becoming more popular but that they were certainly more expensive, which put him off stocking them. "They should be promoting these products to independents and offering us point-of-sale material to make things easier," he said.
Another shop owner said that she only stocked two brands of coffee. She didn't see the point of making one of them a fair trade brand as she had never been asked for it by a customer.
Gail Hunt