Fair Trade Growing Fastest in Mainstream Supermarkets

by | Mar 8, 2011

Fair Trade product sales are growing faster at mainstream supermarkets than at specialty and natural grocery stores, according to third-party certifier Fair Trade USA.

Sales of Fair Trade Certified products grew 24 percent overall during 2010, breaking down as 26 percent growth in mainstream channels, 22 percent at specialty grocers and 16 percent at natural grocers, the organization reported. The data was collected by research firm Spins.

Some of the biggest growth was in coffee, which grew 33 percent. Fair Trade USA said this was due to a bigger variety of Fair Trade Coffees being sold through a broader range of supermarkets.

Ready-to-drink tea and coffee was up 39 percent, fuelled by a new commitment from tea maker Honest Tea, and growth by Adina Coffee. Sales of Fair Trade skin care and body care grew by 32 percent.

Fair Trade USA certifies goods based on worker wages, safe working conditions, environmental protections and the donation of community development funds.

Some other growing categories of Fair Trade products:

  • Aromatherapy and body oils: up 19 percent
  • Sweeteners: up 17 percent
  • Chocolate: up 19 percent
  • Frozen desserts: up four percent

“We are encouraged by the fact that in spite of the economic recession, consumers everywhere are embracing the idea that every purchase matters,” said Cate Baril, director of business development for grocery and ingredients at Fair Trade USA, previously known as TransFair USA.

Ice cream maker Ben & Jerry’s has said that it plans to purchase only Fair Trade ingredients, when possible, by 2013.

Other eco-labels for the tea and coffee sectors include UTZ’s Good Inside and Rainforest Alliance Certified.

Sara Lee says it will more than triple the amount of UTZ-certified Good Inside coffee that it buys by 2015. The company says it is the world’s largest buyer of the certified commodity and the third-biggest coffee seller in the world, behind Nestle and Kraft Foods.

Last year Nestle said it will source 90,000 tons of coffee according to Rainforest Alliance and Sustainable Agriculture Network (SAN) principles by 2020.  It also said it will double the amount of coffee it buys directly from farmers to 180,000 tons over the next five years, and will ensure that all directly purchased green coffee will meet 4C sustainability standards by 2015.

Tea giant Tetley said it will sell 100 percent Rainforest Alliance Certified tea by 2016.

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