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Fairtrade report reveals growing US demand for ethical consumerism

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Fairtrade’s annual Consumer Insights report, conducted by GlobeScan, has found an increase in trust and favourable perception from consumers towards Fairtrade certified brands and products. This includes greater consumer recognition of the Fairtrade mark.

More than 2000 consumers located in the United States and 15,000 international consumers participated in the study through an online survey.

The report found that Fairtrade awareness among US consumers has grown by nearly 50 per cent since 2019 with current awareness sitting at 41 per cent.

The Fairtrade mark was also found to have a positive impact on brand perception in the US with 80 per cent of consumers saying they viewed brands with the Fairtrade stamp favourably. This was compared against 76 per cent of consumers as found in 2019.

Trust in Fairtrade has also increased with 57 per cent of US consumers trusting the Fairtrade International mark, as compared to 48 per cent in 2019.

Coffee still remains the most recognised Fairtrade product with US shoppers reportedly willing to pay up to 35 per cent more for Fairtrade coffee. Chocolate was also widely recognised as a Fairtrade product with US shoppers willing to pay 30 per cent more per bar for Fairtrade chocolate.

Fairtrade links these positive findings with the COVID-19 pandemic citing it as a wake-up call to consumers about the need to make more ethical purchasing options.

“The pandemic opened the public’s eyes to how interconnected we are to our communities as well as to the global supply chains we all rely on to produce everyday staples,” says Peg Willingham, Executive Director, Fairtrade America.

“Shoppers worldwide, including here in the US, are realising the positive impact their purchasing decisions can have on farmers and workers to receive fair prices, assistance to adapt their practices to the changing climate, and empower women and children in farming communities worldwide.”

According to GlobeScan’s independent public opinion research, consumers now expect companies to demonstrate fair employee treatment and environmental protection across sourcing and production processes. This comes as part of changing consumer expectations for companies to act sustainably.

GlobeScan’s research further found that 41 per cent of US respondents said that they had changed their purchasing choices over the past year to make a difference on an economic, social, environmental, social, or political issue. This reveals a change towards how consumers are viewing their everyday shopping, and seeing it as a way to make a difference.

Within the Fairtrade report, nearly three-quarters of survey takers said they believed now, more than ever, it was important to support Fairtrade in building a better economy for all.

“We are pleased to see this growing traction for the Fairtrade Mark and the positive perception it imparts on our brand partners. Our goal is to grow US consumer preference of Fairtrade to the levels of certified organic goods,” says Willingham.

Survey takers reported that they were most concerned about child labour, deforestation, sustainable farming practices, and poor working conditions.

In recent years Fairtrade says major US brands have moved away from credible third-party certifications, instead favouring internal self-regulation, particularly around issues such as child labour, fair prices for farmers, and sustainability.

GlobeScan’s 2020 independent data found that consumers were sceptical of this shift with less than half of its survey respondents saying they trusted companies’ communications about their social and economic performance.

Caroline Holme, Senior Director of GlobeScan says, “GlobeScan has recently seen significant increases in people wanting to make more socially and environmentally responsible shopping choices. But we know that behaviour lags attitudes, so ethical labels like Fairtrade can be valuable, trusted guides for busy shoppers.”

Fairtrade America has recently launched a new Product Finder to help consumers easily identify and purchase Fairtrade-certified products with more than 5000 products across the US registered under the Fairtrade mark.

Established in 1987, GlobeScan is an insight and strategy consultancy that seeks to build long-term relationships between clients and stakeholders.

Fairtrade is a third-party certification that partners with farmers and workers in developing countries to negotiate better prices and working conditions. For more information, visit www.fairtradeamerica.org.

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