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Retailers might be missing a prime sales opportunity because they aren't carrying enough Fair Trade certified products to meet consumer demand, according to a study conducted by Fair Trade supplier trade group Alter Eco Fair Trade and six universities, and released in time for October's Fair Trade Month.
In addition to potential increased sales, retailers selling Fair Trade products will provide much needed help for marginalized populations, farmers, and families, the group said.
"Mainstream retailers adopting Fair Trade practices and offerings is a key contributor to the increased awareness of Fair Trade products in the market," said Edouard Rollet, c.o.o. of Alter Eco.
The study, conducted in collaboration with researchers from six universities across the nation, found that more than 70 percent of consumers surveyed are familiar with Fair Trade, and that Fair Trade is consistently going mainstream, especially as larger brands and institutions continue to adopt Fair Trade practices.
However, it also showed the Fair Trade market to be fragmented, with little name recognition for the small independent companies that have driven Fair Trade since the movement's beginning.
Other key findings:
- Personal values and product quality drive purchases of Fair Trade items.
- Although price is an impediment for consumers who have never bought Fair Trade products before, most will pay a premium for brands they trust.
- The availability of Fair Trade products is still limited -- less than half of respondents report seeing Fair Trade items where they normally shop.
- While coffee continues to be the most popular Fair Trade category (66.6 percent of research participants cited coffee as their primary Fair Trade purchase), several other categories are emerging in popularity including tea, cocoa, fruit, and rice/grains.
The study, sponsored by Alter Eco, was developed in collaboration with University of Arizona, University of Nebraska-Omaha, University of California-Berkeley, Colorado State University, University of Illinois-Chicago, and the University of Wyoming. It involved approximately 500 consumer interviews across six markets.
The full study is available online at www.altereco-usa.com/altereco-fairtrade-study2008usa.pdf