Recent years have seen an increase in consumer demand for ethical products that help producers and farmers in the developing world. Health shop customers are particularly likely to be concerned about ethical issues like this. You could meet this demand by stocking a range of Fairtrade products such as dried fruit, cereals, health bars and even clothing. This would show potential customers that your business is ethically aware and committed to fighting global poverty. Offering Fairtrade products can also be a good way to differentiate your business from its competitors.
What is Fairtrade
Fairtrade guarantees a fair deal for disadvantaged producers and farmers by making sure they receive a fair price for their work and goods. Fairtrade items are generally slightly more expensive than similar products - but more and more people are happy to pay a little extra to help producers become self-sufficient. All Fairtrade products are marked with the easy to recognise Fairtrade Mark and there is a huge range available.
How does it work
The Fairtrade system works by paying producers a set minimum price for their goods, giving them a living wage. On top of this, producers also get an extra sum of money to invest in their business or community. This is called the 'Fairtrade Premium'.
In return, Fairtrade producers must meet certain standards. These are set by Fairtrade International. Only licensees, such as importers and manufacturers, that are registered with the Fairtrade Foundation can apply the Fairtrade Mark to a product. So you'll probably buy your Fairtrade goods either direct from manufacturers or importers or - more likely - from registered wholesalers and distributors in the UK. The Fairtrade Foundation website has a list of wholesalers throughout the UK that sell Fairtrade marked products to retailers.
When you buy Fairtrade goods from a wholesaler or registered manufacturer, you can probably expect to pay a little more than you normally would for similar products. The slightly higher trade prices cover the set price and Fairtrade Premium that are paid to the farmer or producer, as well as supply chain costs and the cost of certification and product licensing.
Although trade prices for Fairtrade products are higher, you can probably charge your customers a little bit more for them. You may benefit from extra sales, too. The Fairtrade Foundation isn't involved in setting retail prices, so the mark-up you add is entirely up to you. While you'll want to cover your costs and retain a healthy profit margin bear in mind the purpose and aims of Fairtrade when you set your prices. The Fairtrade Foundation makes it clear that profit margins on Fairtrade items shouldn't be higher than on similar products.
Promoting Fairtrade goods
Offering Fairtrade products can be an attractive selling point for your business and can help to attract ethically aware customers. So it's important to make sure that potential customers know about the Fairtrade products you stock.
The Fairtrade Foundation is responsible for promoting Fairtrade in the UK and can provide useful materials and advice to help you to advertise your Fairtrade ranges. Any promotional materials that contain the Fairtrade Mark, like posters or leaflets, must be approved by the Foundation.
The Fairtrade Foundation organises a Fairtrade Fortnight each year to promote the Fairtrade system. This could be a good time for you to raise customer awareness about the Fairtrade products that you offer. For example, perhaps you could hold a Fairtrade tasting evening. You could also put up posters in your outlet promoting the benefits of Fairtrade and informing customers what Fairtrade products you stock.
Where to find out more
The Fairtrade Foundation is part of the international Fairtrade movement and oversees all aspects of Fairtrade in the UK - including retailing. For more information on Fairtrade, the range of products available and how you can get involved visit the Fairtrade Foundation website.