Ethical labels: sticky year ahead but good news for organic
By David Burrows and Niamh Michail
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It’s been a tough year for ethical certification schemes, culminating in the news that the relationship between Mondelēz and Fairtrade was 'evolving'. The owner of Cadbury isn’t the first to bring some of its commodity sourcing schemes in house and it won’t be the last – but this is a big deal and could give others the confidence to follow suit. This won’t happen immediately, however conversations will already have begun on other new-age relationships between brands and the auditing schemes that keep them on the right side of the green line.
For brands, the challenge will be convincing consumers that they will act responsible without this independent scrutiny. For schemes, the challenge will be convincing brands that they still have a role to play and value to offer. It could be another tough year for ethical marques.
One that seems sheltered from this, at least for the time being, is organic (supply and demand issues aside). Antibiotic resistance has been one of the top five food production stories of 2016 and there are no signs of the issue dropping off the political, consumer and campaigning radar anytime soon.
The controversy surrounding glyphosate and continued opposition to GM within the EU will also continue to fuel demand for organic crops. The sector rarely rests on its laurels, however, and it’s the potential or claimed health benefits of the products rather than ethics or environmental issues that it’ll most want to promote.