featured_discAs part of the ongoing development of Better Retailing, we are launching a weekly discussion. This week Stefan asks: What does Fairtrade mean to retailers?

Fair Trade KK Studio_13On Monday, Nestlé announced that Kit Kat is to become certified Fairtrade in the UK and Ireland from January. This follows on from announcements earlier in the year that Mars and Cadbury will be sourcing the cocoa used in some of their leading brands from sustainable sources and making sure that the farmers in some of the world’s poorest countries get a fair deal for the job that they are doing.

But what does this mean to retailers? In discussions in the office, we were trying to work out how important the announcement from Nestlé – which included full-page adverts and accompanying stories in the daily papers – is to the local retailer in this country. Is this story more of a ‘consumer story’ than a retailer one? And if so, does it really make any difference to you?

It isn’t in doubt that the people who work hard in cocoa-growing regions of the world deserve a fair deal, but what is in doubt from our point of view is the actual affect of moves like this on the public and you, the retailer. Do people refuse to buy non-Fairtrade products? Do Fairtrade products sell more? What should or could you do to make the most of this?

When the three biggest confectionery manufacturers in the country all believe that something is important enough to shout from the rooftops about, you’d imagine that it is something you should be looking at as well. After all, you wouldn’t ignore those same companies if they announced their Christmas ranges, or that they are taking their reps off the road.

Knowing this news doesn’t mean that retailers actually have to do a lot initially. All four-finger Kit Kats will be Fairtrade, so you don’t have to choose what to sell and what not to sell. Consumer recognition of the Fairtrade, or Rainforest Alliance, or similar, logos is growing all the time, so people will be looking more and more for them as they become aware of the benefits to the wider world. Eventually this could lead to the balance swinging and Fairtrade-only shopping baskets for consumers. It’s worth understanding what this is and what it means sooner, rather than later.