17 Nov 2020

The Increasing Value of Sustainability among Shoppers

How willing are consumers to purchase items produced in a fair and ethical way? Does that change across countries? These, and many other questions, were explored as part of the Trade Fair Live Fair Project. With an initial survey launched across five European countries in 2018, the 2020 edition shows that interest in sustainable and fair products has actually increased.

The Trade Fair, Live Fair project aims to increase public awareness of sustainable consumption in the EU. The survey helps to drive changes in public policies and private sector practices that contribute to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goal 12, which calls for responsible consumption and production, as well as contributing to other related SDGs.

As part of the project, an initial assessment of consumer opinion was done in 2018. This was intended to reveal to what extent shoppers care about the way products are produced, what role they think governments and companies should have, and to work as a benchmark going forward. The survey covered 5,000 consumers across Germany, France, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom.

Two years later, in August 2020, a follow-up survey was carried out with the same number of shoppers in the same countries. In addition, this time the survey also asked consumers what actions they had taken in the past year. As to see if purchasing habits follow-through their stance on sustainability.

Main takeaways

Results showed that purchasing habits do reflect sustainability concerns to some extent, being more prominent in certain countries. For example, 97% of UK shoppers in the higher and medium income brackets said they had purchased fair trade products during the previous 12 months.

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The 2020 edition also asked consumers about their preference and purchasing habits during the past 12 months

Even though 64% of consumers want to know if the human rights of the people who produced their food were respected, there is still progress to be made. For example, as a total, only 25% of consumers purchased products produced in a socially responsible way.

Curious about the full results? Download our dedicated publication: The increasing value of sustainability for shoppers

Next Steps

The end of the year will see the completion of the Trade Fair, Live Fair project. Stay tuned to learn more about the different activities carried out with our partners.

What’s more, 2021 will see Fairtrade running a new edition of a global survey on consumer perception about Fairtrade products in particular. This will allow us to get better acquainted with opinions and habits, and help us fulfill consumer expectations.

The Trade Fair, Live Fair project, funded by the European Union, joins the collective forces of 21 organizations and certification schemes working on fair trade and ethical fashion, including Fairtrade International, to make progress on sustainable production and consumption (SDG12). The opinions expressed here are the sole responsibility of Fairtrade International and do not necessarily reflect the views of the European Union.