05 april 2008
Fairtrade Sales reach tipping point
Retail sales of Fairtrade labelled products in 2007 will most probably surpass 2 billion Euros. “In some countries, like Switzerland – with a market share of 53 percent - and the UK, Fairtrade is already out of the niche”, reports Carlos Eugenio Vargas, member of the board of directors of FLO and representing producer organizations in Latin America. The Netherlands is lagging behind, but after years of stagnation, turnover of Fairtrade labelled products in the Netherlands has been growing more than 20 percent for three years now. In 2007, the estimated volume growth of Max Havelaar Fairtrade labelled products in the Netherlands was 26 percent compared to 2006.
“It is impossible to say when tipping points are reached”, says Coen de Ruiter, director of the Dutch Max Havelaar foundation, one of the national labelling organizations. “But before they occur FLO has to be ready.”
That is one of the main reasons FLO has been developing a new strategy, says Barbara Fiorito, FLOs chair of the board of directors. “We have been working on it for about a year. One impart part of it is the empowerment of our producers to have a strong say in the management of FLO. The producers are now the real owners of FLO.”
Vargas adds: “FLO has always had producers in the board, but for many years we were not the owners. Once you are the owner, the organisation is your house for which you are made responsible. This means a huge difference in attitude. You can’t empower producers without giving them a say in the organization. It is a natural process.”
FLO is also focussing on category management, a retailing concept in which the total range of products is broken down into discrete groups of similar or related products, the product categories. Fiorito gives an example: “We will globally manage our bananas and try to match potential sales with products. As we see the need growing, we have to find more producers.”
P+ webtip: Fair Trade net