New research suggests that shoppers are staying loyal to Fairtrade products despite the the cost of living crisis

Fairtrade International has said that global consumers are ”staying loyal” to the ethical label despite the cost of living crisis.

Fairtrade Bananas closeup Adobe

According to new research findings released by GlobeScan and Fairtrade, around three in five (56 per cent) of shoppers surveyed across 12 countries said they were willing to pay more for a Fairtrade product, despite the increased cost of living.

While consumers are increasingly concerned about rising food prices, small-scale farmers also face skyrocketing fuel, transport and fertiliser costs, putting their livelihoods even further at risk.

“It is encouraging that shoppers are staying committed to sustainability values even during hard times, to support farmers and workers getting a fair income,” said Sandra Uwera, global CEO of Fairtrade International.

“The global cost of living crisis is squeezing both consumers and producers, but this survey shows that many people still put ethical considerations high on the list when they go shopping.”

Despite recent indications of an overall dip in consumers’ willingness to choose “purposeful” brands, Fairtrade said it appeared to be bucking the trend when it came to ethical shopping choices, with more people saying they regularly bought Fairtrade products than the last survey in 2021.

Some 44 per cent said they bought at least one Fairtrade product per month, up three percentage points from two years ago.

Continuing a trend seen since the first Fairtrade GlobeScan survey in 2008, trust in Fairtrade remained high.

Just over 70 per cent of those surveyed recognised the Fairtrade label, and of those, 86 per cent said they trusted it – including three-quarters of Gen Z, Millennials and Gen X.

“Fairtrade remains the most visible and trusted ethical label globally,” added Uwera. “The majority of consumers told us they prefer to buy Fairtrade products over other labels.”

Other headlines from the Globescan survey included younger consumers being the most willing to pay more for Fairtrade over regular products, shoppers strongly associating Fairtrade with social justice issues, and a clear emotional connection to the label.

In addition, more than one in five shoppers – a small uptick from previous years – associated Fairtrade with support for farmers to reduce the impact of climate change, reduce the impact of farming on the environment, and protect against deforestation (22 per cent each).

“Despite the impacts of inflation on the average consumer (six in ten people across the world say they have been ‘greatly affected’ by cost of living), our research shows increasing concern about climate change and poverty,” said Caroline Holme, senior director at GlobeScan.

“According to GlobeScan’s annual Healthy & Sustainable Living study, people want to have those big concerns reflected in the products they buy,” Holme explained. ”And certifications such as Fairtrade continue to be critical to help consumers shop with their values.”

Fairtrade noted that this year’s survey provided new insights into who consumers believe are most responsible for protecting human and environmental rights.

Some 31 per cent of respondents said that governments were the most responsible for protecting human rights, followed by international bodies such as the UN or European Union (21 per cent).

When it came to environmental protection, consumers again said national governments were the most responsible (25 per cent), with large companies and individuals a close second (19 per cent each).

While shoppers didn’t see certifications as primarily responsible, they strongly associated Fairtrade with having impact on these issues, especially on decent working conditions and fair pay for farmers and workers.

“Farmers and agricultural workers are facing multiple crises, including spiralling inflation, lower real wages and the effects of climate change – while consumers around the world are also facing great uncertainty,” said Uwera.

“These findings send a clear message that shoppers still want fair and sustainable options, and suggest that they see no short cut to a more sustainable future.