EMBARGO: May 1 2010

Millions of UK Consumers Punish Businesses Who Don’t Treat Workers Fairly

A Fairtrade Foundation / GlobeScan Press Release

One in five British consumers punish socially irresponsible companies through their shopping choices.

Within the committed Fairtrade consumer sector, more than two thirds say they will always or often punish companies for not being socially responsible and nearly a third of mainstream consumers are likely to reward companies for being socially responsible.

And Britons overwhelmingly expect fair pay and fair treatment for workers in developing countries, and the vast majority, 86%, feel a personal responsibility to ensure workers are fairly compensated.

The in-depth GlobeScan poll of 1,500 people was commissioned by the Fairtrade Foundation ahead of World Fair Trade Day (8 May), the international campaign to improve the lives of small producers, farmers and artisans around the world, and to coincide with Labour Day (1 May).

Making a personal difference to sustainable development and fairness makes shoppers feel good, with one in five people respondents saying they want to do their part. Women are slightly more motivated by the feeling of doing good than men. And if companies get it right, over 60% of shoppers are likely to recommend Fairtrade products to friends and colleagues, generating further sales.

The FAIRTRADE Mark came top as the most trusted certification label and the majority of people, (64%) link Fairtrade to fair pay for producers and workers.

Cheryl Sloan, Marketing Director at the Fairtrade Foundation said: ‘It is very encouraging that UK consumers continue to be very receptive to Fairtrade and show high levels of awareness, familiarity and purchasing. Fairtrade is clearly no longer a fringe sector within retail. But companies should also take note that shoppers are prepared to send a very strong message to them about their global accountability.’

The survey showed that Fairtrade clearly adds value to products and strongly impacts on people’s intention to buy. An overwhelming 90% of active ethical consumers say the FAIRTRADE Mark on pack helps the product create a positive impression and many say it makes them more likely to buy specific brand.

Sloan continued: ‘The recognition of the FAIRTRADE Mark and trust expressed in the survey are consistent with people’s actions, as they increasingly vote with their shopping baskets for a new model in trade in which justice and equity are integral parts of the transaction. Fairtrade sales have continued to increase in the last year, enabling producer communities to improve their environment, build schools, sink boreholes. Tea producers in India have bought school equipment and medical care for the community. But much more needs to be done as we all continue to face difficult times.’

But the poll also demonstrated an overall decline in the numbers of people expressing concern about economic issues such as energy pricing, food prices and the recession compared to a year ago. However human rights, poverty in developing countries and worker exploitation have held up, with over half expressing concern. Slightly less importance was attributed to action on the environment (74% down from 82%) and support for progressive government policies (60% down from 67%), indicating disillusionment with government.

The FAIRTRADE Mark is recognised by the vast majority (over 90%) of British consumers and is by far the most frequently seen ethical label. Two-thirds of people surveyed have purchased Fairtrade products in the past six months, compared with just over half for organic and still less for other labels. Fairtrade is the first choice for bananas, chocolate, coffee, tea and sugar and people expressed a strong interest in buying Fairtrade textiles, cosmetics, desserts, seafood and wood. Fairtrade is most often spontaneously associated with the Co-operative, followed by Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Cadbury, and when prompted, Green & Black’s is the most recognisable Fairtrade branded product. Estimated retail sales of Fairtrade products in the UK topped £799m in 2009.



Martine Julseth
Media and PR Manager
+44 20 7440 7695


Oliver Martin
Director Global Development
+1 416 969 3073


Notes to Editors

  1. The FAIRTRADE Mark is a certification mark and a registered trademark of Fairtrade Labelling Organisations International (FLO) of which the Fairtrade Foundation is the UK member. The Fairtrade Foundation is an independent certification body which licenses the use of the FAIRTRADE Mark on products which meet international Fairtrade standards. This independent consumer label is now recognised by 72% of UK consumers and appears on products as a guarantee that disadvantaged producers are getting a better deal. Today, more than 7.5 million people—farmers, workers and their families—across 58 developing countries benefit from the international Fairtrade system.
  2. Over 4,500 products have been licensed to carry the FAIRTRADE Mark including coffee, tea, herbal teas, chocolate, cocoa, sugar, bananas, grapes, pineapples, mangoes, avocados, apples, pears, plums, grapefruit, lemons, oranges, satsumas, clementines, mandarins, lychees, coconuts, dried fruit, juices, smoothies, biscuits, cakes & snacks, honey, jams & preserves, chutney & sauces, rice, quinoa, herbs &  spices, seeds, nuts & nut oil, wines, beers, rum, confectionary, muesli, cereal bars, yoghurt, ice-cream, flowers, sports balls, sugar body scrub and cotton products including clothing, homeware, cloth toys, cotton wool and olive oil.
  3. 7 in 10 households purchase Fairtrade goods, helping Fairtrade sales reach an estimated £800m in 2009, up from £712m in 2008. There are over 460 producer organisations selling to the UK with 872 certified producer groups in the global Fairtrade system, representing more than 1.5 million farmers and workers.
  4. The GlobeScan survey ran from 30 January to 9 February 2010 and 1,500 people completed online interviews through consumer internet panels. Survey data has been weighted to reflect the true estimated incidence of Fairtrade purchasing and to reflect the country’s demographic composition by gender, age, and education, as per the latest census data.
  5. GlobeScan Incorporated is an international opinion research consultancy. We provide global organisations with evidence-based insight to help them set strategy and shape their communications. Companies, multilateral institutions, governments and NGOs trust GlobeScan for our unique expertise across reputation management, sustainability and stakeholder relations. GlobeScan conducts research in over 90 countries, is ISO 9001-2008 certified and a signatory to the UN Global Compact.

    Established in 1987, GlobeScan is an independent, management-owned company with offices in Toronto, London, and San Francisco. www.GlobeScan.com.
  6. World Fair Trade Day London Fairtrade Festival:

Running from 7–9 May, the London Fairtrade Festival will celebrate World Fairtrade Day 2010.