Fair shopping despite inflation? | Free press

With a clear conscience through the supermarket – fair trade has grown significantly in recent years. However, high prices put to the test of convincing customers.


Cocoa, coffee, bananas – supermarket customers find Fair Trade signs on an increasing number of products. Spend a little more so that small farmers in the southern hemisphere, for example, have a better income – this idea is convincing a small but growing percentage of buyers.

Corona was only able to slow the boom down briefly – growth resumed in 2021. But now high inflation may stifle the trend again. A look into a handbag can set the limits of international solidarity on a supermarket shelf.

What does fair trade mean?

Trading provides long-term prices at which producers can pay their costs and invest. Small farmers often come together to form cooperatives and sell their products at guaranteed prices. Fair trade goods are therefore often more expensive than the rest of the range in the supermarket. The price often also includes a social bonus that can be used, for example, to build schools.

Why is there an offer?

“A living wage is a human right,” emphasizes Forum Fairer Handel. However, no one in the industry is saying that buying a pound of coffee will solve all the problems of smallholders. Among other things, she is also committed to strong EU supply chain law.

How common are fair trade goods?

In the beginning, market goods were only available in global stores or action groups. Supermarkets and discounters have been driving growth for several years. There are several seals. However, fair goods remain a niche product with a retail turnover of around two billion euros. Mathematically, each German citizen spent EUR 23.50 on it in 2021. This was how far the organic segment was in 2000, today sales are eight times higher there.

What is being bought?

Coffee and tropical fruits in particular are often sold with fair trade seals. According to Forum Fairer Handel, a good six out of every 100 cups of coffee drunk in Germany is fair trade. Textiles and flowers are also some of the main revenue streams, and chocolate is making strong growth. The fact that fair ones are always more expensive than conventional ones is a myth for a Fairtrade seal supplier. On a supermarket shelf, there is often hardly any difference to other branded products.

How stable is the trend?

Over the years, things went on until cafes, canteens, and global stores were temporarily shut down during the Corona Crisis. After a negative 2020, sales last year rose again by around seven percent to around 1.95 billion euros, the forum announced Wednesday in Berlin. “The downward decline caused by the pandemic has stopped,” said managing director Matthias Fiedler. By far the largest seal supplier, Fairtrade, also posted strong growth of nine percent to € 2.1 billion. This also includes positions where individual raw materials are fair trade.

Will inflation end the boom?

The shock absorber seems likely. Sustainability and value-added products are under pressure, the German Retail Trade Association noted. This applies primarily to organic products, but also to regional and fair trade assortments. Many consumers no longer want to pay higher prices for such goods. In a survey conducted by the Idelao price comparison platform, 83 percent of those polled said they prefer to buy cheaper products now.

The exhibition sector relies on the fact that among its regular customers there are many fairly wealthy “doomed consumers”. Nevertheless, a difficult year is expected. Fiedler says, “If you get zero, that’s a good score.” (dpa)

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