This week it has been announced that sales of Fairtrade goods have broken the £1bn barrier for the first time despite fears that recessionary pressures would persuade British consumers to put price before ethics.
Does this suggest that we are finally getting it?
The Growth in sales of bananas, chocolate, coffee (the most common Fair Trade items) and other products under the Fair Trade banner has climbed from £836m in 2009 to £1.17bn in 2010. So it would appear on first look that this is indeed the case.
Launching Fairtrade Fortnight, the organisation said that on a daily basis Britons now consume 9.3m cups of tea and 3.1m bananas stamped with its ethical mark. Fairtrade aims to support farmers and workers in the developing world by paying at least market prices for their produce. So it’s a good thing – no argument there. But is it social conscience or something else driving this?
In reality Fair Trade sales in Britain appear to have been boosted by the backing of the big retailers. In particular, Sainsbury’s, the world’s largest Fairtrade retailer, hopes to nearly double sales to £500m by 2015 while the Co-operative Group is increasing the number of Fairtrade product lines as part of a three-year ethical strategy (that I blogged about last week).
So perhaps the large supermarkets are finally beginning to ‘get it’? Let’s hope so – although the likes of Tesco and Asda still have a long way to go.
If the general public find Fair Trade as a regular item in their trolley this can only increase its acceptance – and perhaps finally make it ‘main stream’ rather than something purchased by others.