Fair Trade goods, which guarantee producers and growers in developing countries fair wages and working conditions, have enjoyed a 40% sales increase in the UK. The launch of a new international logo to harmonise standards could further increase consumer confidence in fair trade goods.

However, the real reason for the growth is the consumer's desire to feel good about a purchase.

Sales of Fair Trade products have experienced a 40% growth in the UK in the past year. These products guarantee growers and producers a fair wage and good working conditions. This ethical dimension to consumer goods is becoming more important to consumers. Originally, tea, coffee and cocoa were the pioneering fair trade goods. Traidcraft, the largest Fair Trade company in the UK, was founded in 1979, and has since been joined by organisations such as Oxfam.

What was initially a niche market appealing to consumers prepared to make an effort to adhere to their principles has now burst into the mainstream. Several high street shops and supermarkets now stock Fair Trade products, and the range of products has been extended to cover not just food, but also clothing, furniture, carpets and toys.

These goods undergo stringent checks to ensure that they conform to Fair Trade standards, and that their sale benefits producers in the developing world. However, these checks differ in each country. To counteract this, and increase consumer confidence, a new international logo was launched today to harmonise standards globally. It is hoped that this initiative will further boost sales of Fair Trade goods.

European consumers' ethics and values are influencing their everyday shopping and so-called compassionate consumerism is on the march. However, the movement has changed since the media frenzy that surrounded it in the 1980's. Paradoxically, the Fair Trade phenomenon surfs a wave of egocentrism. What has catapulted Fair Trade products into the mainstream are not the altruistic principles of those with whom the idea originated, but the more widespread desire amongst consumers to make themselves feel good.

Related research: Datamonitor, "Organic, Natural, Ethical and Vegetarian Consumers - New Consumer Insight" (DMCM0081)