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Ethical labels: poll finds Fairtrade most widely recognised mark

By Jane Byrne , 11-Oct-2011

New research indicates that Fairtrade is the most widely recognized ethical label globally, said the organisation behind the standard.

Nearly six in ten shoppers (57%) across the 24 markets surveyed said they have seen the Fairtrade certification mark.

And recognition has increased by six points to 65% in the 15 main tracking countries since the study was first conducted in 2008, notes Fairtrade International, which added that over 80% of consumers recognize the label in the UK, Ireland, Switzerland, Netherlands, Austria and Finland.

Furthermore, said the group, the poll shows that nearly six in ten consumers believe their shopping choices can make a positive difference to farmers and workers in poor countries,

Of those familiar with the Fairtrade label, 64% said they associate it with helping farmers and workers in poor countries escape poverty, found the poll.

Brand impression

When asked if a branded product that they normally buy began carrying the Fairtrade mark, eight in ten consumers (79%) say it would have a positive impact on their impression of the brand.

Reykia Fick, a spokesperson for Fairtrade International, remarked that the goal of the research was to better understand and monitor consumer attitudes, awareness and beliefs relating to ethical consumerism and Fairtrade.

The fieldwork, said the organization, was conducted between February to June this year, with around 17,000 adult consumers polled in both developed and emerging markets.

Drawing comparisons

In terms of the other ethical marks, Fairtrade was compared to in the global recognition poll, the spokesperson told FoodNavigator.com:
“We included questions related to the other most common ethical labels within each country.

We don’t want to disclose any specific names since we are cooperating with other ethical brands and do not want to create the impression that we are in competition with other labels.”

Higher global Fairtrade spend

Consumers globally spent €4.36bn on Fairtrade products in 2010, up by 28%, reports the organisation.

In certain markets, Czech Republic, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand, shoppers tripled their purchases of such certified products and in the UK - Fairtrade’s largest market - consumers bought 47% more Fairtrade branded products last year.

Mars makes switch

Last month saw Mars announce that Maltesers will be its first brand to carry the Fairtrade mark from June 2012 but only in the UK and Irish markets. The commitment follows similar moves from Cadbury and Nestlé.

In response to a query as to whether there is enough certified cocoa available to support other brands making the switch, the spokesperson told this publication in September that: “Currently, there is more Fairtrade cocoa produced than bought. That was why Mars was able to do a relatively quick turnaround for Maltesers.”

And she was hopeful the Mars’ commitment would spur other brand owners to purchase more Fairtrade cocoa. “We will continue to work on concrete measures to allow more confectioners make the switch,” said Fick.

Private label

Ildiko Szalai, food industry analyst at Euromonitor International, speaking to FoodNavigator.com last month remarked that, in the UK, the increasing number of private label Fairtrade chocolate confectionery lines have bolstered the ethical label’s retail sales in both value and volume terms.

Szalai estimates that over the medium to long term the expansion of the Fairtrade chocolate market will be driven by greater awareness of ethical food items in developed markets and intense promotional activity from mainstream manufacturers such as Cadbury and Nestlé to support their existing product lines.

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