Fair trade is growing and diversifying, but challenges remain

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In 2018, sales of Fairtrade-certified(') products increased with 24% compared to 2017. Fair trade is growing and gradually diversifying: This trend is reflected in the broader range of activities of this year’s Fair Trade Week. The Fair Trade week runs from 2 October to 12 October!

Fair trade still faces challenges. In Belgium people prefer local products and youths attach more importance to ecological aspects which they still find lacking in fair trade products, shows the survey on responsible consumption which was commissioned by the Trade for Development Centre (TDC) of Enabel, the Belgian development agency(**).

Larger volume and broader offer of fair trade

With sales increasing with 24% in 2018 fair trade showed spectacular growth. One out of five bananas sold in Belgium is Fairtrade-certified(***). This is because also larger companies and supermarkets have jumped on the bandwagon. It is noteworthy that the absolute leader in fair trade sales in 2018 is Aldi, a hard discounter, with 16% of the Fairtrade market share.

To a limited extent, fair trade is also broader than it used to be. Products such as sneakers, fashionwear and the Fairphone 3 broaden the offer and combine fair and ethical aspects. Belgians are enthusiastic about this evolution. Only 1 out of 4 agrees that the fair trade offer is sufficiently broad and varied at present. An equal number of Belgians do not agree.

Fair trade applied to Belgian and European products is a trend that is evolving rapidly. It fosters a sustainable agricultural model requiring European producers to follow fair trade principles. Since last year, various Belgian fair trade initiatives have been certified under the ‘Prix Juste Producteur' label. The Oxfam-Wereldwinkels fair trade shops now offer fair Belgian apple juice and beer. The range of European fair products of Ethiquable and the fair dairy products of Fairebel have been on Belgium’s shelves for a while.

Belgian consumers welcome the emergence of such products. The ”Belgians and fair trade” opinion poll, which was commissioned by the TDC in 2018 already showed that 62% of Belgians believe that fair trade should also apply to Belgian and European producers. Local products have a better reputation among Belgians than other product types. This primarily is because of price-quality, credibility and the supposed impact: 60% of Belgians believe that their purchasing of local products really makes the difference, whereas for fair trade products this is only so for 43% of Belgians.

A look into the future

Belgians associate responsible consumption particularly with eating with the seasons (49%) and short supply chains (39%) on the one hand and with reusing goods/reducing waste (46%) on the other hand. Fewer people (15%) think of fair trade.

Three out of four Belgians are concerned about environmental issues and again call for local responses: 70% considers purchasing local products to be good for the environment, whereas only 25% of Belgians consider fair trade products to contribute to a better environment. Consumers seem hardly aware of the fact that fair trade requires some ecological criteria to be fulfilled too. Only 15% of young people, who associate responsible consumption more with ecological aspects, believe that fair trade products are good for the environment.

According to Jean Van Wetter, Managing director of Enabel, ‘If fair trade wants to further be a pioneer, the sector will have to invest in a few important drivers in the future: better incorporate the local aspect, provide guarantees as to real impact and – especially for young people – focus on climate and environmental aspects”

Fair Trade Week 10 days of discovery

The Trade for Development Centre wants to showcase the diversity of fair trade during the ten days of the Fair Trade Week. Two out of three Belgians agree that we have to change our consumption habits and our way of life, but less than half believes their own purchases impact the environment or the producers’ living conditions. With a broad range of fair trade activities throughout Belgium we have people discover fair trade whilst emphasising that their individual purchases do make a difference.

Workshops and debates about fair fashion, actions to promote fair trade products in local pubs and restaurants and a hackaton with which youths want to boost fair trade with digital means… Also international fair trade producers find their way to the campaign in Belgium. Moroccan women give workshops in Belgium about traditional crafts. A cocoa farmer from Côte d’Ivoire visits Anderlecht to share experiences with local farmers and a delegation of fair trade and organic producers from Sri Lanka comes to Belgium to contact Belgian fair trade organisations and businesses.

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Notes:
* ‘Fairtrade’ refers to the specific label of Fairtrade Belgium or to products that have that specific label. In all other cases ‘fair trade’ or ‘fairtrade’ is used.
** All numbers in this press release are from this survey unless indicated otherwise. ***Numbers from Fairtrade Belgium.

Find out more?
On the homepage you can find several thematic files on fair and ethical trade aspects/products, as well as all details related to the Fair Trade Week.

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