A huge demand for fairtrade goods is not being met by UK retailers who are missing out on billions of pounds of sales.
The latest statistics have revealed that fairtrade has emerged as the most popular category in the growing ‘ethical’ consumer goods market but it is a long way from fulfilling its potential because store chiefs are overlooking its appeal.
A survey by Fruit Passion, which produces a range of fairtrade fruit juices, found that shoppers were nearly twice as supportive of fairtrade goods than organic produce.
Consumers from across the UK were questioned for the report in which 41 per cent of respondents said fairtrade was their top priority compared with 23 per cent for organic fare.
And yet organic food sales amount to £1.2 billion a year while fairtrade lags far behind, just exceeding the £230 million mark. Current predictions suggest that fairtrade sales will reach around £550m in five years’ time but this is still less than half the present level of organic sales.
And while fairtrade sales have been gathering momentum, having more than doubled in the past four years, the size of the potential market is further highlighted by the survey’s findings that one person in three would be happy for everything in their shopping basket to carry the fairtrade label.
The report also revealed that cost was not the inhibiting factor of a potential fairtrade boom. More than 65 per cent of people said they would expect to pay between 10 and 30 per cent extra on fairtrade products but the average increase is generally much lower than this. For example, Fruit Passion fruit juice retails at under five per cent more than non-fairtrade juices.
Lack of choice was given as a key reason why shoppers do not buy more fairtrade products as well as lack of availability and insufficient information about the farmers or producers supported by the product.
Supermarkets are now beginning to close the gap between organic and fairtrade with the introduction of new products but there is a great disparity in the number and choice of goods offered in both categories.
Tesco currently stocks 14,000 organic products and only around 100 fairtrade products, for example, while Asda has around 900 organic products and stocks 55 fairtrade products. In addition, Sainsbury’s, which launched a fairtrade clothing range three weeks ago [Sat Oct 28], currently stocks more than 1,000 lines of organic produce compared with 75 fairtrade goods.
A spokesman for Sainsbury’s, which claims to be the leading fairtrade retailer, said: “We have seen fairtrade sales increase by 70 per cent in the past year. Our customers are definitely responding to the fairtrade market which has seen a similar growth trend to organic produce this year.”
Rob Spencer, marketing and business development director at Fruit Passion, commented: “Retailers have a great opportunity to satisfy consumer demand and in doing so both the retailers and consumers will be doing a tremendous amount to support producers and growers in developing countries.”
He added: “Fruit Passion is the UK’s original fairtrade fruit juice and support for the fairtrade movement is demonstrated by the sales figures which are growing in value by 28 per cent year on year.”
The Fruit Passion research findings are based on a survey of nearly 600 consumers conducted over a three week period in Aug 2006.
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, 2006
Mintel, Oct 2006
Mintel, Oct 2006
TNS - 12 w/e 16/07/06 vs 12 w/e 17/07/05
For further information, please contact:
Emma Casey at Corixa Communications
Tel: 0117 949 3394
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