Fair Trade RTD Beverages Grew by 37 Percent in 2011

Sales of Fair Trade Certified ready-to-drink beverages grew by 37 percent in 2011, according to new SPINS data reported by Fair Trade USA. In a recent press release, Fair Trade USA cites rising consumer demand for Fair Trade products as well as a number of new beverages in the segment as chief reasons for continued growth.

“The 2011 SPINS data only further supports the idea that people want quality products that improve lives and protect the environment; they want to make every purchase matter,” said Mary Jo Cook, Chief Impact Officer at Fair Trade USA.

Tea companies led the charge for Fair Trade beverages as brands including Honest Tea and Steaz introduced a number of new Fair Trade tea drinks in the past year, while others, such as The Republic of Tea, have begun converting their lines to include Fair Trade certified ingredients.

Coffee and coconut water brands have also contributed to the rise of new Fair Trade beverages. Coco Café, for example, melds organic, Fair Trade espresso with coconut water and milk, while raw coconut water company Harmless Harvest expects its line of drinks to be Fair Trade-certified by June.

Here is Fair Trade USA’s press release announcing the new SPINS data:

Sales of Fair Trade Certified™ Products Up 75 Percent in 2011

OAKLAND, Calif., March 6, 2012 /PRNewswire/ — Fair Trade USA, the leading third-party certifier of Fair Trade products in the United States, today reports new data revealing that sales of Fair Trade Certified™ products grew a whopping 75 percent between Q1 and Q4 last year.

The data, from SPINS LLC, indicates that sales of Fair Trade Certified products grew fastest in the mass merchant – mainstream grocery, food and drug – channel, which saw a 95 percent increase in Fair Trade Certified product sales in 2011.

This overall growth in sales was largely driven by nationally-distributed brands increasing their commitment to Fair Trade.

The frozen desserts category grew 394 percent, driven in part by brands like Ben & Jerry’sHonest Tea increased its Fair Trade Certified offerings, which helped grow ready-to-drink beverages by 37 percent; cookies, snack bars and energy bars grew more than tenfold, led by the success of companies like LARABAR; and the spice category grew 126 percent, due to the expansion of Fair Trade Certified products by companies like Frontier Natural Products Co-op and new products from Spicely.

Dramatic growth in sales was also seen in baking mixes (+51 percent) and sweeteners (+72 percent).

“The increased commitment to Fair Trade by major U.S. brands marks a unique opportunity for American consumers to choose responsibly-sourced products everywhere they shop,” said Mary Jo Cook, Chief Impact Officer at Fair Trade USA. “The 2011 SPINS data only further supports the idea that people want quality products that improve lives and protect the environment; they want to make every purchase matter.”

Other recent studies offer explanations for the increase in Fair Trade sales. A 2011 Harvard study found that the Fair Trade Certified label alone has a large positive impact on sales: adding the Fair Trade Certified label to a product resulted in sales increases of about 10 percent, and a substantial segment of consumers are willing to pay five to ten percent more for a product bearing the Fair Trade Certified label.

Additionally, new research from Cone Communications showed that an overwhelming 94 percent of consumers are likely to switch brands, assuming price and quality are similar, to one that is associated with a good cause. And studies by both Cone and Globescan reveal that a majority of consumers agree that the best way to verify a product’s social or environmental claims is through independent third-party certification.

Fair Trade USA, a nonprofit organization, is the leading third-party certifier of Fair Trade products in the United States. Fair Trade USA audits and certifies transactions between U.S. companies and their international suppliers to guarantee that the farmers and workers producing Fair Trade Certified goods were paid fair prices and wages, work in safe conditions, protect the environment, and receive community development funds to empower and improve their communities. Fair Trade USA also educates consumers, brings new manufacturers and retailers into the Fair Trade system, and provides farming communities with tools, training and resources to thrive as international businesspeople. Visit www.fairtradeusa.org for more information.

SPINS (www.spins.com) is the first company to offer Natural and Specialty Product sales data to the industry. Established in 1995, SPINS is now the premier provider of industry reporting and consulting services for this rapidly expanding sector. SPINS’ comprehensive offering includes retail measurement services, content-based reporting, consumer information and consulting services.

Editors Notes:

  • Growth rates are for the 12 weeks ending December 24, 2011 over the 12 weeks ending March 19, 2011.
  • Excludes Walmart, Sam’s Club, Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods Markets, cafes/restaurants and private label products; all of which constitute the majority of Fair Trade Certified™ product sale.