Fairtrade Fortnight shines ethical spotlight on Australia

Posted by Josette Dunn on 28th April 2010

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With the Fairtrade Fortnight approaching this coming May, Australians have a real opportunity to boost the Fairtrade movement in Australia. However, Datamonitor research has determined that it will require a concerted effort from consumers and industry players alike to bring Fairtrade into the mainstream.

Fairtrade Fortnight will take place in Australia and New Zealand from 1-16 May, 2010 and the ‘Big Swap’ campaign, organized by the Fairtrade Association, challenges consumers to swap as many of their everyday products – coffee, tea, bananas, chocolate, even t-shirts, with Fairtrade alternatives.

The Fairtrade movement has already gained significant momentum in Australia. Research released by Fairtrade Labelling Australia and New Zealand found sales of Fairtrade CertifiedTM products have risen by 50% between 2008 and 2009, with a 30% increase in Australian businesses now licensed to trade in Fairtrade Certified products. This has contributed to 2009 retail sales in Australia exceeding $36 million, up from $23 million in 2008.

However, despite growing interest in Fairtrade offerings, only a minority of Australians are routinely buying such products. Datamonitor research* found that, while 62% of Australians believe it is important to choose grocery products that support Fairtrade, only 14% are buying such products regularly i.e. ‘most of the time’ or ‘all the time’, which is even lower than the global average (23%).

“Australians are certainly taking a greater interest in Fairtrade products, but other factors such as taste and health take precedence. Still, the importance that consumers attach to choosing Fairtrade products is indicative of future market potential” says Katrina Diamonon, Datamonitor Consumer Markets Analyst.

Manufacturers are responding to growing consumer interest in Fairtrade. Earlier this year for example, Fairtrade Certified Cadbury Dairy Milk chocolate began to hit shelves across both Australia and New Zealand, benefiting more than 45,000 farmers in Ghana by providing them with the security of fair and stable prices for their produce, and investment in community development. “As Fairtrade establishes a mainstream presence, larger commercial brands will enter and draw a larger share of the market, and brands will have to compete for market position,” comments Diamonon, based in Sydney office.

The Fairtrade movement in Australia will show considerable growth over the next few years. As awareness and availability grows, Australians will begin to incorporate more Fairtrade products into their weekly grocery shop. “Campaigns such as the Fairtrade Foundation’s ‘Big Swap’ are important as they can overcome the ‘attitude-behaviour gap’ when it comes to Fairtrade. By encouraging consumers to trial as opposed to convert to Fairtrade substitutes, the concept becomes a lot more accessible,” concludes Diamonon.