The Fair Trade Boom

"Consumers increasingly want to become engaged with issues such as origin and production details," says Datamonitor analyst Nick Beevors. "Fair trade labeling is something that gives them a degree of confidence over these issues."

Datamonitor's recent report, "The Next Step in the Ethical Consumer Revolution," details the state of the market, the motivation of consumers and a peek at where the market will be in 2012. In terms of fair trade sales, some of the totals are as follows:

  • United States: 455.3 million pounds
  • United Kingdom: 395.3 million pounds (note: the United Kingdom boasts the largest per-capita fair trade sales at 6.5 pounds)
  • France: 152.4 million pounds
  • Germany: 98.9 million pounds
  • Japan: 3.7 million pounds (note: Japan ranked last among surveyed countries, both in terms of total and per-capita sales)

"Ethical consumerism will increasingly come to the fore as people shop for products they feel akin to politically, ethically and aesthetically," says Beevors. The beverage category is likely to lead, particularly with tea and coffee.

The report predicts 15.7% growth in fair trade through 2012 for the countries covered. In the UK alone, this will translate to 2012 fair trade sales of 800 million pounds. Datamonitor notes that consumers are increasingly concerned about how their actions will affect the world, especially in the wake of such natural disasters as Hurricane Katrina and UK floods. But if companies are going to capitalize on this movement they will have to do it right.

"Transparency and trust," concludes the report, "will become an increasingly important currency as manufacturers attempt to cool a potential consumer backlash to 'greenwashing' in the search for clear, honest and effective environmental benefits."   

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