South African sales of Fairtrade products have increased threefold from R18,4m in 2010 to R73,2m last year, making SA the leading market for Fairtrade in the developing world.
Fairtrade provides social, economic, and environmental standards that are dedicated to the empowerment of small farmers and farm workers, while ensuring that production is regulated and brought into the supply chain in a sustainable and environmentally sound way.
Boudewijn Goossens, executive director of Fairtrade Label SA said: "South African consumers are voting with their rands and showing the world that consumers in emerging markets are eager to support a movement that represents social and environmental sustainability."
Fairtrade products are becoming increasingly popular as people become more discerning about the products they buy. Consumers globally spent about €5bn on Fairtrade-certified products last year.
The Fairtrade movement goes back about 50 years in Europe and in SA popularity is growing.
"Research to gauge local awareness of the Fairtrade label among living standards measure (LSM) 7-10 showed an increase from close to 0% to 6% of our urban population in two years.
"The awareness amongst LSM 9-10 is 9%," Goossens said.
Awareness of the Fairtrade label among local LSM 7-10 consumers will be at the same level as their UK and European counterparts in about five years, Goossens said.
Wine and coffee remain the leading sales categories.
Last year, South Africans drank 255600 bottles of Fairtrade wine and more than 3,5-million cups of Fairtrade coffee.
SA is the largest producer of Fairtrade wines in the world, with more than 5,6-million litres exported last year. This accounts for about 1,8% of all South African wine exports.
On purchasing a Fairtrade certified commodity, traders must pay an agreed Fairtrade development premium above the crop price. The development premium is one of the major empowerment tool as it allows small-scale farmers and farm workers to invest in projects they consider necessary for their communities.
FLO-Cert, the company responsible for auditing Fairtrade, has to visit each co-operative, farm or company in the Fairtrade supply chain and inspect the goods in the production line until they are finished products.
In October last year, Kraft Foods' chocolate slab, Cadbury Dairy Milk (plain), become the first Fairtrade-certified confectionery brand in SA, guaranteeing farmers in West Africa a better price for their cocoa.
To date, Kraft Foods has sold 29-million Fairtrade slabs of Cadbury Dairy Milk (plain), excluding mini and treat size.
Pick n Pay was the first retailer in Africa to commit to Fairtrade, director of sustainability and marketing Bronwen Rohland said.
"When we signed the agreement with Fairtrade in 2010 we committed ourselves to becoming a key player in the creation of a Fairtrade market in SA, as well as in the promotion of new local and regional Fairtrade supply chains.
"Our commitment remains as strong as it was then."
Pick n Pay stocks a variety of Fairtrade products, including Bean There coffee, Spier Wine and Turqle Trading's Fair Trade Original spices.
Source: Business Day