Securing the future of Fairtrade

The availability of ethical foodservice products has improved beyond recognition. James Roberts, joint-managing director of Peros, reports

For coffee, tea and hot chocolate an important ongoing trend is the steady increase in sales of ethical beverages, particularly Fairtrade, whose brand recognition is very strong in the UK. 

Statistics suggest that 78% of those familiar with the Fairtrade mark in the UK strongly associate it with helping farmers and workers in poor countries tackle poverty. This positive association appears to drive higher consumer spending; ethical brands are showing significant growth, especially in Fairtrade where sales grew by nearly 40% in 2010. 

It’s also clear that, although Fairtrade products now account for around 25% of all roast and ground retail coffee sold in the UK, this is not just down to ethical credentials. It’s also about taste and range of choice; consumers, including students, simply won’t put up with inferior products and a lack of choice, so it’s important to make sure that quality and range of choice are at the top of the agenda when putting together an ethical menu.

Fortunately for caterers, the choice, quality and availability of ethical foodservice products has improved beyond recognition in the last decade. Instead of there being perhaps only one Fairtrade option of variable quality, there is now a wide choice of high-quality goods. This opens opportunities for foodservice operators to expand their ethical options throughout their menu.

It’s now not just about hot beverages; there are snack options, bakery lines, gluten-free variants, confectionery and soft drinks to choose from. And remember, every hot beverage sale is a great basis for cross-selling these other products. This can be achieved through a regular menu offer at a special price; say a chocolate brownie and a cappuccino. Or a cross-selling opportunity suggested through product placement and point of sale material; for example, a display of snacks next to a till. Good suppliers will be able to recommend and support these ideas, which will help refresh your offering throughout the year and continue to drive revenue.

This choice, quality and availability of Fairtrade products is particularly important for university caterers because there is a high expectation that they will operate ethically and sustainably. Not only are their student consumers mainly younger and therefore more likely to actively seek out ethical products, but also universities and colleges are increasingly looking to achieve Fairtrade status as part of their growing global responsibilities.

There are now over 160 Fairtrade universities and colleges in the UK, with many more working towards it. They have all made a commitment to supporting and using Fairtrade, and to making these products as widely available as possible. They are also responsible for raising the awareness of Fairtrade amongst their students and staff, and highlighting the benefits that the scheme brings to growers and their communities throughout the world.

Branding is the ideal opportunity for conveying to your customers the qualities and values you stand for. This is your chance to promote your commitment to ethical trading and sustainability through your foodservice offering and, importantly, to maximise your sales. Branding is becoming increasingly stripped back, but it still plays a vital role in authenticating your sustainability and substantiating your guarantee of quality. It’s important to look for a foodservice supplier who can offer real value for money.

And it’s not just about the product range, but also about the breadth of experience they can bring to product sourcing, branding and sustainability. The relevance of sustainable sourcing as part of any business’ CSR policy can’t be underestimated in today’s commercial environment, and that’s equally true for university caterers as it is for high-street chains.

Free live webinar & QA

Blended learning – Did we forget about the students?

Free Education Webinar with Class

Wednesday, June 15, 11AM London BST

Join our expert panel as we look at what blended learning means in 2022 and how universities can meet the needs of ever more diverse student expectations.

Send an Invite...

Would you like to share this event with your friends and colleagues?