Half of global consumers used their buying power to make a positive difference during the pandemic

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As shoppers increasingly make ethical choices, they provide ‘vital lifeline’ for cocoa farmers, says Fairtrade movement on World Chocolate Day.

New GlobeScan research across 15 markets worldwide reveals that more people than ever before want to take personal action to live sustainably and buy more responsibly. In fact, over half (57%) consumers globally pledged to shop at stores or visit a cafe with a strong Fairtrade commitment. This data echoes a boom in Fairtrade sales in many countries in 2020 outside of the study, showing that consumer intentions are translating into action at the shelf.

Released to mark a new global Fairtrade cocoa campaign “Bitter Sweet” culminating on World Chocolate Day, 7th July, the data shows that chocolate remains one of the most iconic Fairtrade products – scoring highest recognition in Ireland and the Netherlands, while six in ten Gen-Z (18-24 year olds) globally prefer Fairtrade chocolate above other labels.

Ensuring no child labour is a key motivator for shoppers, followed by reduced use of pesticides, tackling poverty, and protecting against deforestation – all of which are a core part of Fairtrade’s mission. GlobeScan’s general public opinion tracking indicates that interest in learning more about a company’s impact has risen by 15 percentage points since 2016. Younger consumers, especially those between 18 and 24, want to know more about what companies are doing to be socially and environmentally responsible, and less than half agree companies communicate honestly, implying a steep upward trend for a desire for more transparency.

Jon Walker, Fairtrade’s Senior Global Cocoa Advisor says: “People are paying more attention than ever before to the conditions behind the products they buy as a way to make a difference in the world. They don’t want their chocolate to leave a bitter taste. Choosing Fairtrade chocolate unwraps a fairer future for farmers and is a clear way to use their buying power to do good. The pandemic has sparked an increased global consciousness, changing the way we eat, and shop.”

A healthy consumer appetite for Fairtrade labelled produce over the past year has seen items fly off supermarket shelves in many markets, with a surge in demand for confectionery. According to GlobeScan, 95% of shoppers who have seen the Fairtrade label now say they buy some Fairtrade product throughout the year, with:

  • A fifth buying multiple products each month
  • A further fifth buying at least one product
  • Nearly six in ten pledging to shop at stores that have a strong commitment to Fairtrade products.

According to recent Ocado research, two thirds of their customers (64%) say it is important to include Fairtrade products in their shop and 22% of their customers say they buy a Fairtrade product weekly, indicating high intentional purchase of Fairtrade products in the UK market.

According to the Globescan research, 53% of people used their buying power to make a positive difference on an issue they care about over the past year. Many chose to put more Fairtrade items into shopping baskets over an alternative.

The U.S chocolate market expanded by 1.8% in 2020 to reach $18.92bn, according to Statista. And the US love affair with chocolate saw Fairtrade cocoa sales volumes top other commodities and grow by 27% over the year, resulting in almost $3 million in Fairtrade Premium payments for cocoa farmers.  

In the UK, total sales of Fairtrade products in retail outgrew total grocery, increasing by 13.6% to reach over £1bn in the food and drink market, according to Kantar (April 2021). Fairtrade cocoa sales volumes topped other commodities and grow by 3% over the year, generating an outstanding £6 million in Fairtrade Premium payments for cocoa farmers.

In the Netherlands, Fairtrade cocoa continued to experience strong growth of 16% in 2020. As a result, Fairtrade farmers received approximately $3.1 million in Fairtrade Premium for cocoa beans sold to the Dutch market.

Meanwhile, sales of Fairtrade certified cocoa products in Belgium grew by 35% in 2020, according to their annual report.

“Increasingly people believe we can all play a part in influencing how companies behave though our shopping choices”, Walker added.

Peter d’Angremond, CEO of Fairtrade Netherlands said: “Fairtrade is big business now worldwide, especially when it comes to chocolate and confectionery, and firms are increasingly investing in their cocoa supply chains. Many brands and retailers have declared new commitments in the past year”.

New business commitments complement long-standing partnerships that continue to drive significant impact for cocoa farmers. Fairtrade’s 10-year collaboration with Mars for instance has generated around $8.5m in Premium, supporting 17,000 farmers to invest in their organisations and increase their earnings. Meanwhile committed Fairtrade retailers such as Co-op and Waitrose, who converted entire categories to using Fairtrade cocoa, continue to drive positive change for Fairtrade cocoa farmers.

Louisa Cox, Fairtrade’s Director of Impact said: “The upward trends in increased consumer demand for sustainability-driven purchasing seem likely to continue to shape the business of chocolate. Legislation that requires companies to ensure human rights are respected in supply chains is gathering force, including in the European Union. Supporting the creation of robust legislation – recognising living income as a human right – is another avenue for citizens to make their voice heard. At the same time, shoppers voting with their wallets is a very strong signal that can deliver real change for farmers.

“Fairtrade is calling for legislation designed to put farmer and worker interests first, and which pushes business to invest in improvements, rather than simply avoiding problems.”

To bring Fairtrade’s cocoa campaign to life, Fairtrade has launched a stop-motion animation for World Chocolate Day designed to unwrap the bitter truth behind non-ethical chocolate bars. The film tells the story of two bespoke bars of chocolate. Viewers watching the animation on the bitter bar will be transported to the cocoa lands of West Africa, where uncertified cocoa farmers who are unable to grow their crop on Fairtrade terms face injustice and low prices, and where poverty and deforestation hold communities back. The film also shows a sweeter side: cocoa farmers who, thanks to Fairtrade, enjoy rigorous independent standards and fair prices.

Brand and retailer cocoa commitments: highlights

  • Nature’s Path, a family-owned company in US and Canada has committed to sourcing 100% of their cocoa as Fairtrade.
  • Russell Stover, the third largest US chocolate manufacturer, launched Joy Bites in June 2021 – a Fairtrade certified, sugar-free chocolate snack
  • Strong growth in the Dutch market saw PLUS supermarket converting all private label products containing cocoa to Fairtrade
  • The company Chocolatemakers also chose Fairtrade certification for their products in Holland
  • Lidl also saw strong growth in the Netherlands and the UK with, among other things, its successful WAY TO GO! concept
  • Verkade announced major cocoa commitments and in so doing, now provide a vital lifeline for their cocoa farmers
  • Aldi launched its innovative new Choco Changer
  • In April, Forests of Hope’s plastic-free, ‘forest-friendly’ children’s surprise eggs feature a variety of forest animals launched in Co-op and Holland and Barret stores nationwide and in Tesco stores in Ireland.
  • Greggs converted all their hot chocolate to Fairtrade, in spite of the many challenges to the out of home sector caused by lockdown
  • Co-op launched its first own-brand Fairtrade Milk Chocolate Ice Cream in the UK
  • Ben & Jerry’s introduced their first ice-cream on a stick in Co-op
  • We’ve seen the full year effect of Waitrose’s 2019 commitments in cocoa in the UK, as well as new lines including cake decorations
  • Smaller brand ‘Chocolate and Love’ increased range with 5 new dispenser chocolate boxes as well as up and coming couverture launch and Vegan bar
  • Asda launched their Extra Special Madagascan dark chocolate bar last month
  • Ben & Jerry’s announced they will pay significantly more than the Fairtrade Minimum Price in October, working towards living incomes for cocoa farmers, inspired by others like Tony’s Chocolonely, and Rewe’s Very Fair in a push for improved livelihoods. This is hugely significant, showing that a better way of trading is possible.

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For more information, images or interviews, contact martine.parry@fairtrade.org.uk Tel: +44 (0) 7886 301466.

Notes to Editors

The 2021 Fairtrade-GlobeScan consumer research was conducted in February and March 2021 in 15 countries with a sample of 15,418 respondents. The countries are Australia, Belgium, Canada, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Spain/Iberia, Sweden, Switzerland, UK and USA.

The 2020 GlobeScan research is from the GlobeScan Radar, a survey of 27,000 people in the general public in June 2020.

About Fairtrade International: Fairtrade changes the way trade works through better prices, decent working conditions, and a fairer deal for farmers and workers in developing countries. Fairtrade International is an independent non-profit organization representing 1.7 million small-scale farmers and workers worldwide. It owns the FAIRTRADE Mark, a registered trademark of Fairtrade that appears on more than 30,000 products. Beyond certification, Fairtrade International and its member organizations empower producers, partner with businesses, engage consumers, and advocate for a fair and sustainable future. Find out more at http://www.fairtrade.net.

About Globescan: GlobeScan is an insights and strategy consultancy, focused on helping clients build long-term trusting relationships with their stakeholders. Offering a suite of specialist research and advisory services, we partner with business, NGOs, and governmental organizations to meet strategic objectives across reputation, sustainability, and purpose. Established in 1987, GlobeScan has offices in Cape Town, Hong Kong, London, Paris, San Francisco, São Paulo, and Toronto. We are a signatory to the UN Global Compact and a Certified B Corporation.  Find out more at: www.globescan.com.