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

Mark Zuckerberg, chief executive officer of Facebook Inc., listens as Narendra Modi, India's prime minister, not pictured, speaks during a town hall meeting at Facebook headquarters in Menlo Park, California, U.S., on Sunday, Sept. 27, 2015. Prime Minister Modi plans on connecting 600,000 villages across India using fiber optic cable as part of his
  • Technology

“No F*cking Way!”: Pink Floyd Frontman Refused To Give Mark Zuckerberg Rights To Song

Roger Waters, co-founder of Pink Floyd, said he refused to give Mark Zuckerberg the rights to use hit song Another Brick in the Wall (Part Two). Waters was speaking at a pro-Julian Assange event when he said that he had been offered a “huge, huge amount of money” for the use of the 1979 hit […]

by B&T Magazine

B&T Magazine
Accor Celebrates Aussie & NZ Cities With New ‘Go ALL Out’ Campaign
  • Campaigns

Accor Celebrates Aussie & NZ Cities With New ‘Go ALL Out’ Campaign

Hospitality giant Accor is shining a light on the joy of cities through its newest campaign, ‘Go ALL Out’, which launches in Australia and New Zealand today. The gateway to the ‘Go ALL Out’ campaign is ALL – Accor Live Limitless, a lifestyle loyalty program that integrates rewards, services and experiences throughout the Accor portfolio […]

Marketing Firm Silverbean Set To Double Headcount To Support New Client Wins
  • Marketing

Marketing Firm Silverbean Set To Double Headcount To Support New Client Wins

Global affiliate and partner marketing firm Silverbean has secured new contracts with 13 major Australian brands and is now working to double the size of its Asia-Pacific team. Silverbean launched in Australia in 2019 and has seen steady growth through its work with retailers. Now, with 15 new brands joining the Silverbean portfolio, the agency […]

Xandr Launches New Guide Exploring The Future Of Identity
  • Advertising
  • Technology

Xandr Launches New Guide Exploring The Future Of Identity

Xandr, AT&T’s advanced advertising company, today released “Shaping the Future of Identity,” an industry guide exploring the approaches for buyers and sellers, as well as market participants, as they evaluate identity solutions in preparation for a future without third-party cookies.

GTI Appoints New GM Of Marketing & Strategy, Snares Fresh Client
  • Marketing

GTI Appoints New GM Of Marketing & Strategy, Snares Fresh Client

Tourism PR and marketing agency GTI has announced the appointment of longtime media executive Jenny Pham as its new general manager of marketing and strategy. Pham (pictured above) will lead the agency’s marketing division with responsibility for strategy, media and consumer marketing, while GTI founder and managing director Sarah Anderson remains as the day-to-day lead […]

Hospitality Networking Platform Clipboard Launches Equity Crowdfunding Campaign
  • Campaigns
  • Marketing

Hospitality Networking Platform Clipboard Launches Equity Crowdfunding Campaign

Clipboard, a free professional networking platform for the hospitality industry, has announced it will seek to raise its next round of funding via equity crowdfunding platform Birchal. This will power its vision to transform the way the fragmented hospitality industry connects, shares experiences, markets and recruits. With a growing member database of over 24,000 hospitality […]