COMMENT: Tesco’s fairtrade fever
Coinciding with the beginning of Fairtrade fortnight, Tesco has launched a Fairtrade grocery range of 15 products. This move by the UK's leading supermarket highlights the growing consumer demand for higher ethical standards from retailers and producers. With the strength of the Tesco brand behind it, the ethical consumerism trend in the UK looks set to become firmly established.
Tesco's 15 product Fairtrade range, which includes orange juice, cookies, coffee, tea, chocolate and South African wine, has been developed in conjunction with the Fairtrade Foundation. There will also be Fairtrade fresh produce including mangos, bananas, plums, grapes, apples, oranges and lemons. Also, for the first time in the UK, Fairtrade flowers will go on sale under Tesco's own label and will include mixed and luxury roses from Kenya.
The launch will take the total number of Fairtrade products available in Tesco to 60 as the supermarket will continue to stock other Fairtrade brands such as Cafdirect, Clipper and Divine. Tesco will support Fairtrade Fortnight by promoting the new range with in-store tastings, promotional offers and information on Fairtrade.
It is likely that the new range will particularly appeal to middle-aged professionals, as those on high incomes tend to be the most active ethical consumers. As with organic food and drinks, affluence has a strong influence on consumers' willingness to buy ethically.
Consumers are increasingly seeking to derive not only functional benefits but also 'feel good' emotional benefits from the products they consume. Recent statistics from the Fairtrade Federation highlight that sales of Fairtrade products - aimed at giving developing world farmers a fair financial return for their labors - have increased by 46% in the last year to £92m.
There is mounting pressure on businesses in all sectors to act with, or at least present an image of, corporate social responsibility (CSR). This means that companies are more willing to provide products and services that fit in with and reflect the lifestyle and ethical choices that consumers wish to make.
Tesco's launch illustrates that Fairtrade is becoming more established in the mainstream and with the UK's largest retailer throwing its marketing muscle behind the trend it can only become more popular.
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