Research shows that consumers do not always trust companies’ own ethical claims. A recent survey by the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills found that almost two thirds of UK shoppers don’t think it is good enough for retail companies to say they are ethical, they need to prove it. When it comes to farmers and workers getting a fair deal, shoppers say they trust independent, third-party certifications more than retailers’ own claims.
Businesses may also have commercial reasons for working with Fairtrade. In some cases, shoppers are willing to pay more for ethical produce, so businesses can boost their reputation at little or no cost. For companies that use commodities that may be scarce in the future, such as cocoa and coffee, sustainable sourcing can be vital for the company’s long-term future.
Many businesses also source on Fairtrade terms because they believe in doing the right thing. Increasingly, we are working with companies who want to go beyond compliance with standards. For example, they may want to offer technical or financial support to producers, source from disadvantaged groups, or implement responsible practices such as longer-term contracts. Waitrose, Marks & Spencer and coffee roaster, Matthew Algie are just three businesses we are working with in this way.
That’s why businesses commit to sourcing on Fairtrade terms and, in the coming weeks, many of the UK’s leading retailers and brands will be encouraging shoppers to “choose products that change lives”, as part of Fairtrade Fortnight.
Although the campaign runs for just two weeks, the year-round commitment that companies make to Fairtrade means that 1.4 million farmers and workers in developing countries — who grow many of our favourite everyday foods such as cocoa, sugar and tea — are getting a fairer deal and working their way out of poverty.
Fairtrade partners with more than 450 UK businesses, from pioneering companies that were established to trade fairly, such as Green & Black’s, Cafédirect, Clipper and Divine Chocolate, through to household brands such as Cadbury Dairy Milk, high street retailers including Sainsbury’s and the Co-operative, and out-of-home outlets such as Starbucks and Greggs, as well as caterers, manufacturers and other intermediaries.
Support from UK businesses has helped Fairtrade to transform lives, but globally less than 1% of sugar and 10% of tea is sold on Fairtrade terms, so there is still a long way to go to make all trade fair. That’s why this Fairtrade Fortnight, we’re encouraging the public to challenge more businesses to stock Fairtrade, or use Fairtrade in their workplace, so that together we can make a greater difference to some of the world’s most disadvantaged farmers and workers, their families and their communities.
The Fairtrade Foundation is the not-for-profit body that certifies the use of the FAIRTRADE Mark in the UK. Euan Venters oversees the Fairtrade Foundation’s relationships with more than 450 businesses, including high street retailers, leading brands, out-of-home outlets, traders and manufacturers.
 64% trust slightly or a great deal, retailers’ own claims that farmers and workers are getting a fair deal, compared with 82% for Fairtrade certified products and 70% for products carrying any independent certification. ICM online omnibus: nationally representative sample of 2,000 GB adults aged 18+, Oct 2014.