Fair Trade on the Rise

Fair Trade USA, the leading third-party certifier of Fair Trade products in the United States, reports new findings that confirm that the prominent appearance of the Fair Trade Certified label increases sales among coffee-buying consumers.

To investigate the topic of consumer demand for Fair Trade products, researchers Jens Hainmueller of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Michael J. Hiscox of Harvard University and Sandra Sequeira of the London School of Economics conducted a six-month research study in partnership with a prominent national grocery retailer.

The team examined purchasing behavior among actual consumers at 26 stores and key findings show that:

- The Fair Trade Certified label alone has a large positive impact on sales.
- Sales of the two most popular bulk coffees sold in each of the 26 test stores increased by up to 13 percent when labeled as Fair Trade Certified.
- The study also revealed that a substantial segment of consumers are willing to pay up to 8 percent more for a product bearing the Fair Trade Certified label.

The findings are consistent with a Globescan study conducted in 2010, which revealed that 75 percent of consumers said Fair Trade certification makes them feel “very positive or positive” about products; 30 percent said Fair Trade is “likely to increase their purchase interest”; and more than half said “independent third-party certification is the best way to verify” a product’s social and environmental claims.

“Overall, the findings suggest that there is substantial consumer support for Fair Trade,” Hiscox said. “The Fair Trade label by itself had a large positive effect on sales, indicating that a substantial number of coffee buyers place a positive value on Fair Trade certification. In addition, a sizeable segment of coffee buyers were willing to pay a premium for coffee if the premium was directly associated with support for Fair Trade. The tests suggest that there are plenty of consumers ready to vote with their shopping dollars to support Fair Trade when it is offered as an option by retailers.”

The complete study is available online.

Fair Trade USA is the leading third-party certifier of Fair Trade products in the United States.



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