Fairtrade America strives for a world in which trade is not only more equitable, but has become a way for producers and consumers to improve quality of life for all. Dedicated brands and traders put this vision into effect.
Fairtrade is more than the buying and selling of goods. It’s a partnership based on trust and transparency. In light of greater inequality, a changing climate, and increased attention to human rights, fairer trade is no longer just a business add-on. It has become a must-have for healthy supply chains.
In 2015, Fairtrade America saw a 33% increase in estimated sales, which topped $1 billion for the first time. This dramatic growth placed Fairtrade America among the top five markets for Fairtrade goods in the world. The principal drivers were cocoa, coffee and ice cream.
But there is much room for improvement. In coffee, our largest product by volume, Fairtrade still represents less than 5% of the market in the US. We also recognize that the percentage of production that Fairtrade producers are able to sell on Fairtrade terms needs to improve if we are to have large-scale impact. Many producers continue to sell a relatively small proportion of their production on favorable Fairtrade terms even though 100% of their production is certifiable.
Cocoa continues to be a strong product category for Fairtrade America. The primary growth driver in 2015 was the addition of Endangered Species Chocolate, a major chocolate company that converted 100% of their range to Fairtrade production.
Major conversions have an added benefit in that Fairtrade requires that all ingredients that can be Fairtrade certified must be sourced from Fairtrade producers. This means that producers of Fairtrade sugar, vanilla and other ingredients also benefit when companies convert to Fairtrade.
The business case for Fairtrade continues to grow. Rather than just doing good, companies are realizing that years of underinvestment at origin and the effects of climate change are beginning to negatively affect supply chains. Fairtrade producers recognize this looming crisis and often invest a large portion of the Fairtrade Premium they earn for sales on Fairtrade terms into quality and productivity improvements.
According to data from Fairtrade International, certified cocoa farmers elected to invest 37% of their Fairtrade Premium income in productivity and quality programs. In coffee, farmers elected to invest 44% of their Fairtrade Premium in improving infrastructure, facilities and processes.
Research from the Hartman Group (2015) shows that nearly 75% of US consumers regularly shop for organic foods. The growing importance of the organic market – and the higher prices it commands – has led to a number of Fairtrade farmers and workers converting to organic production. Over 50% of all Fairtrade farmers and workers also hold organic certification.
Fairtrade requires buyers to pay a higher price for organic products to adequately compensate producers for the additional expenses and time required for organic production. Given the addition of new Fairtrade licensees using conventional supply chains, organically-produced products represent a smaller percentage of the US Fairtrade market than in 2014, but continue to be an important market.
In a competitive market, Fairtrade America offers companies a unique proposition. As the sole representative of the international Fairtrade system in the US, we license the world’s most recognized ethical mark.
According to a 2015 Globescan study, 60% of US consumers trust the FAIRTRADE Mark, a sharp increase from 2013 (44%), and three in four US consumers have a positive perception of brands that carry the Mark.
Thanks to our affiliation with the global Fairtrade system, we offer companies assurance that their entire chain of custody meets the internationally-agreed Fairtrade Standards. For more information on how to get your products Fairtrade certified, visit Fairtrade for Business.