The power of the ethical consumer?

The power of the ethical consumer?
SHARE
THIS



Last week I attended the annual World Cocoa Foundation conference in Indonesia, where manufacturers are faced with the prospect of cocoa farmers opting to pursue alternative higher paying opportunities.  Cocoa production is predicted to decline by as much as 20% by 2020, yet demand will grow by up to 30%.

I raise this not because I want to discuss the obvious market response which looms, but to discuss who is ultimately driving the lack of investment within these supply chains. Put another way, who has the power to change this reality, and are they willing?

Retailers claim that the customer’s bottom-line concern is always price. STARLAB (the Sustainability, Transparency & Accountability Research initiative of the University of Sydney’s Business School) conducted fieldwork analysing the rate of sale of product that carried a fair trade logo versus product that didn’t. They used bulk bin coffee for this particular trial which showed that, when the logo was applied, a 10.3 percent rise in sales resulted. There was a price premium tolerance of up to nine percent before volume was affected.

If we focus on the consumer, research released this month by McCrindle showed 8 in 10 Aussies would be more likely to purchase a product which supported people in need, assuming product value was similar. Seven in 10 supported the claim that ethical products are good value for money.  The research also showed that consumers understood that purchasing a product carrying an ethical label such as Fairtrade, guaranteed a fair wage for farmers and opportunities for sustainable product growth.

In the UK 20 years ago, there were clear signals from consumers that they support the principles of sustainable trade. One of the big retailers Sainsbury’s showed leadership and responded. They did it well, and they were bold about any trade-offs that had to be made with regard to selection and price. In the end, any sacrifices they made there were well and truly compensated for by the pay-off they received from creating for themselves a profile of being a progressive organisation with ethical sourcing policies.

So what are manufacturers and retailers here in Australia doing?

Since the inception of the Fairtrade system in 2004, sales of certified ethical products have grown from $120million in 2010 to more than $200million in 2013. This growth is reflected in product categories such as tea, coffee and cocoa to cotton clothing and sports balls all of which are sourced from developing countries with consumers being able to choose from more than 1,700 products. Even big brands such as Cadbury are now offering consumers Fairtrade certified milk chocolate blocks and bars. Supermarket giants such as Coles where possible in the categories of tea, chocolate and coffee are expanding their Fairtrade range.

Brand manufacturers and retailers who make commitments to Fairtrade are rewarded by consumers. It stands to reason they’ll increasingly look to retailers to be dedicating greater space on their shelves in these product categories that reflect customer values of paying these farmers a fair wage and supporting sustainable production.

So if the power to increase ethical purchasing lies mostly with consumers, then the ability to accelerate this process lies with manufacturers and retailers.  We are lagging behind but the market place is showing signs of willingness to change.

So if we think of a world without affordable chocolate, coffee or tea, many in my field would want to do what we can to encourage retailers and brand manufacturers to take a leadership role in supporting ethical and sustainable products. If they don’t, farmers who are the foundation of the supply chain will decide, or be forced to grow something else to survive.

Craig Chester, operations manager, Fairtrade Australia

Please login with linkedin to comment

Latest News

Shell & HSBC Launch Global Agency Reviews
  • Advertising
  • Media

Shell & HSBC Launch Global Agency Reviews

Going with ‘new year, new me’ theme, Shell and HSBC are looking to freshen up their respective media businesses.

by B&T Magazine

B&T Magazine
Comexposium Takes Over NZ Partner MTS To Become Largest Trans-Tasman Events Group
  • Marketing

Comexposium Takes Over NZ Partner MTS To Become Largest Trans-Tasman Events Group

Marketing events group Comexposium has absorbed its New Zealand joint venture partner MTS to deliver an expanded event solutions business across the Trans-Tasman. The deal will see Ryf Quail (pictured above) return to Sydney to lead Comexposium Australian and Kiwi team, while his current MTS team remains in place as Comexposium employees. While the business […]

Eyeota Kick-Starts 2018 With $15.6 Million In Additional Funding
  • Marketing

Eyeota Kick-Starts 2018 With $15.6 Million In Additional Funding

Audience data provider Eyeota has announced a $15.6 million Series B capital raise to spearhead additional growth in 2018. The company was founded simultaneously in Singapore, Australia and Europe in 2010, and has remained independent and enjoyed strong growth locally, as well as launching into the US. Peter Hunter (pictured above), Eyeota’s general manager for […]

Poem Wins Four New Clients
  • Marketing

Poem Wins Four New Clients

Sydney-based PR and social agency Poem has announced it has won four new clients following another strong year of growth. The four clients are Property NSW (The Rocks and Darling Harbour), Fantastic Furniture, Ovolo Hotels and Purpose (a conference on purpose-driven business). Poem co-founder Matt Holmes said: “We’ve hit a nerve with clients who are […]

Facebook Makes Another News Feed Change
  • Media

Facebook Makes Another News Feed Change

Social media behemoth Facebook has announced its second major update for News Feed to make sure the news people see, while less overall, is high quality. This week, Facebook announced that the platform will launch a small test in the US focused on prioritising news from publishers that users find trustworthy. Facebook is also exploring ways […]

Attention! B&T’s Inaugural Bootcamp Launches!
  • Advertising
  • Marketing
  • Media
  • Technology

Attention! B&T’s Inaugural Bootcamp Launches!

B&T announces its new industry bootcamp! And, if you're like us & didn't know anything about it, all's revealed here.

by B&T Magazine

B&T Magazine
Domain Boss Antony Catalano Exits
  • Media

Domain Boss Antony Catalano Exits

Mystery surrounds Domain boss's surprise exit, although the Mystery Machine nor a talking dog not spotted at Fairfax.

PHOTOPLAY Offers A Ghost Train Ride Like No Other At Sydney Festival
  • Media

PHOTOPLAY Offers A Ghost Train Ride Like No Other At Sydney Festival

Jasmin Tarasin, director at boutique production company PHOTOPLAY, is inviting invites audiences to take a trip through the inner-workings of the mind in ‘Ghost Train’, her latest multi-sensory VR project set to feature at this year’s Sydney Festival. Working in collaboration with musician and co-creative director Jonnine Standish, Tarasin’s uniquely immersive ‘Ghost Train’ is a […]

March One To Rebrand Fundraising Institute Australia
  • Marketing

March One To Rebrand Fundraising Institute Australia

Independent advertising and branding agency March One has been appointed to oversee the rebrand and repositioning of Fundraising Institute Australia (FIA). FIA is the national peak body representing professional fundraising in Australia. It was established to advance advocacy and professional standards, and has identified the need to better promote its role as the industry self-regulator, […]

Victorian Government Launches VR Bushfire Experience Via The Fuel Agency
  • Advertising
  • Campaigns
  • Technology

Victorian Government Launches VR Bushfire Experience Via The Fuel Agency

As part of its summer fire campaign, the Victorian government has launched a virtual reality (VR) bushfire experience and content series via The Fuel Agency. The VR experience places the user in the midst of a large bushfire, and is designed to encourage people to leave early on high-risk days before it’s too late. The […]

Local Ad Tech Company VeNA Partners With RugbyPass
  • Advertising
  • Media
  • Technology

Local Ad Tech Company VeNA Partners With RugbyPass

ad tech company VeNA has signed an exclusive reseller partnership covering Australia and New Zealand with digital rugby network RugbyPass. Across Asia and parts of Europe, RugbyPass is the exclusive digital rights holder and over-the-top broadcaster for live rugby, including the Super Rugby, the Rugby Championship and autumn internationals, the Six Nations, the Aviva Premiership, […]