Consumers favour Fairtrade as ethical label of choice globally and in SA

Friday, 6 September, 2013
Fairtrade International’s 2012-13 annual report, released today, shows strong sales and continued consumer trust, making Fairtrade the label of choice for shoppers around the world. The report is based on the organisation’s work in the past year on “Unlocking the Power” of producers and is highlighted by 16% growth in the total number of producer organisations compared to 2011.
Over 1.3 million farmers and workers in 70 countries are part of 1,149 Fairtrade certified producer organisations. In addition to sales income, these producer groups benefitted from an estimated €80 million (ZAR 1 billion) in Fairtrade Development Premium for sustainability and development projects in 2012.

Sales increased significantly in key markets, including: Germany (33%), the Netherlands (26%), Sweden (28%), Switzerland (15%), and the UK (16%). Last year’s growth nearly completely offset the drop in total 2012 sales caused by Fair Trade USA’s withdrawal from the international system at the end of 2011. Excluding the USA, average sales in all other Fairtrade markets increased by over 20% compared to 2011.


-    Producer networks are now half-owners of Fairtrade International, making Fairtrade the only ethical certification scheme in the world to be jointly-owned by its producers.
-    Nestle’s Nespresso, Unilever’s Ben and Jerry’s, and Mars’ Maltesers made major new commitments with Fairtrade globally.
-    The Fairtrade Access Fund has given US$5.65 million in loans to small producer organisations in Latin America to address their most pressing financial needs.
-    More than half of all bananas sold in Switzerland’s retail chains are from Fairtrade producers, and over 40% of sugar bags in the UK bear the FAIRTRADE Mark. Globally, sales of Fairtrade flowers grew by over 50%.
-    Over 30,000 Fairtrade products are now sold in more than 125 countries worldwide.


In 2012 the sale of Fairtrade products in South Africa reached a record high of R234 million, a 220% increase from 2011’s R73.2 million. Fairtrade coffee, wine and now chocolate are the leading sales categories of Fairtrade locally:

-    With the introduction of three new Fairtrade coffees last year, Ciro, Woolworths and Espresseco’s coffee capsules, the flagship product for Fairtrade globally is on a steep rise in South Africa. Last year South African consumers bought over 120 tons of Fairtrade coffee with an estimated value of R30 million, a 167% increase from 2011;
-    South Africans drank 410,000 bottles of Fairtrade wine with an estimated value of R23 million, a 60% increase from 2011;
-    and 2117 tons of Fairtrade chocolate was consumed by South Africans in 2012, mainly through the sale of Cadbury Dairy Milk plain chocolate bars.

Despite positive trends in consumer sales and an increase in Fairtrade producer organisations, many people are still beyond Fairtrade’s reach. The number of Fairtrade producers is just a fraction of the total number of producers around the world.

“In the ultimate irony, half of the world’s hungriest people are smallholder farmers, yet they grow 70% of the world’s food,” said Harriet Lamb, CEO of Fairtrade International. “Fairtrade’s strong sales growth in 2012 is encouraging, but we are productively dissatisfied.  We must step up the reach of Fairtrade if we are to break the mould of unfairness that is so deeply embedded in trade.

Consumers showed their support for Fairtrade by spending Euros 4.8 billion on Fairtrade products in 2012. Nine in ten consumers in five leading Fairtrade markets recognised the FAIRTRADE Mark. A Fairtrade-commissioned study in 17 countries confirmed Fairtrade’s position as the most widely-recognised ethical label. Across all markets, six in ten consumers have seen the FAIRTRADE Mark, and of those, nine in ten trust it.

Expanding Fairtrade to more consumers is also critical to “Unlocking the Power of the Many.” In 2013, Fairtrade products became available in Kenya and will be available in India later this year, providing consumers in those markets the chance to buy Fairtrade products from Fairtrade producers in the same country.

“Fairtrade coffee and chocolate are core product categories internationally; unique to the South African market however is Fairtrade wine.  As the biggest Fairtrade wine producing country, this translates into additional benefits for South African farm workers, who not only benefit from better working and living conditions, but also from the Fairtrade Development Premium”, says Boudewijn Goossens, Executive Director of Fairtrade Label South Africa.  

For more information, to source or stock Fairtrade products or to set up interviews with Fairtrade producers and traders please contact: Lynsay Sampson, Marketing and PR Officer, Fairtrade Label South Africa, 021 4488911,, or visit