OAKLAND, Calif. — Consumers are not only increasingly aware of Fair Trade Certified products, they're also willing to pay more for them, according to TransFair USA.
Nearly one-quarter (23%) said they knew about the Fair Trade label as of last year, up from 15% in 2006, according to a study by TransFair here, the third-party certifier of Fair Trade products in the United States. Once they understand the meaning of Fair Trade, 37% of consumers who had not previously purchased FTC products said they will start doing so.
“More and more people are not only aware of it, but intend to buy it when they see it,” Cate Baril, TransFair's business development director, said during a seminar at the Fancy Food Show in New York June 29 to July 1.
Likewise, the majority will pay more for FTC products. Nearly one-third (31%) said they're willing to pay 1% to 5% more; more than one-quarter (26%) said they would pay 6% to 10% more; 11%, 11% to 15% higher; and 6%, 15% or more.
FTC products are grown by family farmers in developing countries who are paid a minimum guaranteed price for products grown and harvested under strict environmental and social standards. The Fair Trade movement is credited with providing farmers with an additional $113 million in income as of last year.
U.S. retail sales of FTC products were $1.13 billion last year, a 46% increase from 2006, according to TransFair. Sales in other countries are also soaring — take the U.K., which had $1.09 billion in sales in 2007, up 72% from 2006; and Canada, $124 million, a 48% rise.
Retailers can help sales climb even more by highlighting FTC products in-store. The reason for this is that consumers say they would buy more Fair Trade products if they could find them. Nearly 53% of LOHAS — Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability — shoppers said they wish FTC products were easier to find, according to TransFair.
“People will buy it if they can find it,” said Baril.
A growing number of retailers are beginning to make FTC products more noticeable in their stores. Wal-Mart Stores, for instance, not only carries its own private-label FTC coffee, but also advertises it in about 36 different consumer intercept points, according to Baril. The coffee was launched in April under the Sam's Choice brand.
Likewise, Whole Foods Market uses “Whole Trade” shelf signs to identify FTC products in its stores. The signs are part of the retailer's year-old initiative known as the Whole Trade Guarantee, a program that follows the principles of Fair Trade. Products that bear the Whole Trade designation must meet specific criteria, including giving low-income farmers better wages and working conditions.
Such efforts come at a time when the Fair Trade market is growing with new products. Some of the first categories to get Fair Trade certification were coffee, tea, sugar, rice, bananas and other fresh fruit. Now there are additional categories.
In March, Wholesome Sweeteners, Sugar Land, Texas, launched the first FTC organic honey, produced traditionally by Mayan beekeepers in Mexico who tend hives deep in the jungle. And Blackwell's Organic Gelato & Sorbetto, Red Bank, N.J., has launched the first FTC sorbetto.
By fall, other new products will include cereal made with FTC sugar, and soy milk made with FTC sugar, vanilla and cocoa.
“Pretty soon you can have a Fair Trade breakfast with your Fair Trade banana and coffee,” Baril said.
FTC wine will also be available this fall. Stellar Organics, a South African winery, will be among the first producers of FTC wine. In October, it will launch FTC wine under the labels Stellar Organics, Live-a-Little and Live-a-Lot. A 1-liter bottle will sell for about $9.99, according to Jeremy Shapley, proprietor for The Triton Collection, the U.S.-based distributor for Stellar Organics wine.
The wine will initially be available at Whole Foods and Publix Super Markets stores, as well as independent wine and liquor stores with strong organic sections, Shapley said.
ON THE LOOKOUT
Consumers will buy more Fair Trade products if they know where to find them
Question: What needs to change before you will purchase Fair Trade products?
|LOHAS*||SPECIALTY COFFEE DRINKERS|
|Superior quality/parity priced||35%||28%|
|Easy to find||53%||49%|
|Price equal to or better than non-FTC brands||38%||35%|
|*LOHAS is the term for consumers leading Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability|
|SOURCE: TransFair USA|
THE FAIREST OF THEM ALL
Wine and honey join the growing list of Fair Trade Certified products in the U.S.; honey is already on the market, and wine is slated to reach stores in the fall
Other new items slated to hit the market soon include:
Cereal made with FTC sugar
Breakfast bars made with FTC sugar and cocoa
Soy milk with FTC sugar, vanilla, cocoa
Jams and preserves with FTC sugar
Yogurt with FTC sugar and processed fruit
SOURCE: TransFair USA