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Research finds Fairtrade is the world’s most widely recognised ethical label

FairtradeFairtrade International’s 2012-13 annual report shows strong sales and continued consumer trust in the organisation.

More than 1.3 million farmers and workers in 70 countries are part of 1149 Fairtrade producer organisations, a rise of 16 per cent on 2011, according to the report. In addition to sales income, these producer groups benefitted from around US$105 million in Fairtrade Premium money for sustainability and development projects in 2012.

Consumer sales increased significantly in key markets, including: Germany (33 per cent), the Netherlands (26 per cent), Sweden (28 per cent), Switzerland (15 per cent), and the UK (16 per cent). Last year’s growth nearly completely offset the drop in total 2012 sales caused by Fair Trade USA’s withdrawal from the international system at the end of 2011. Excluding the USA, average sales in all other Fairtrade markets increased by more than 20 per cent compared to 2011.

Despite positive trends in consumer sales and an increase in Fairtrade producer organisations, many people are still beyond Fairtrade’s reach, the organisation says.

“In the ultimate irony, half of the world’s hungriest people are smallholder farmers, yet they grow 70 per cent of the world’s food,” said Fairtrade International’s CEO, Harriet Lamb, in a statement. “Fairtrade’s strong sales growth in 2012 is encouraging, but we are productively dissatisfied.  We must step up the reach of Fairtrade if we are to break the mould of unfairness that is so deeply embedded in trade.”

The report says that consumers showed their support for Fairtrade by spending US$6.3 billion on Fairtrade products in 2012. Nine in ten consumers in five leading Fairtrade markets recognised the Fairtrade Mark. A Fairtrade-commissioned study in 17 countries found that, across all markets, six in ten consumers have seen the Fairtrade Mark, and of those, nine in ten trust it.

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