Characteristics of Fair Trade products

Key words: fairtrade products, certification, fair price, standards

In order to receive the certification, Fair Trade products must meet a number of production standards such as the ban on child or forced labour and a fair purchase price adequate to the costs of growing or production. The standards also guarantee a controlled use of pesticides and other chemicals and encourage growing crops in a sustainable manner. Furthermore, there are specific standards for the individual crops (such as coffee, tea, or chocolate). Which of these characteristics are important for Czech consumers, and what characteristics do consumers attribute to ‘Fair Trade’ labelled products?

The Institute for Evaluation and Social Analyses (INESAN) conducted research into the conditions for developing Fair Trade in the Czech Republic in 2014. The chief goal of the research was evaluating the effect of selected social conditions on the development of Fair Trade, defining the primary factors influencing the general public’s interest in Fair Trade products, and expanding the knowledge base of shopping patterns and preferences related to Fair Trade and price sensitivity in consumer segments. The research was conducted in the form of interviews with a quote-selected sample of 1,327 respondents.

The research analysed the respondents’ awareness and knowledge of Fair Trade products and the typical features and principles of Fair Trade. The analysis showed that respondents most often associated these products with ethically responsible trading (20 %). The other frequently mentioned characteristics were related to the origin of the products in underdeveloped or developing countries (17 %) and aid for developing countries (15 %). Some respondents perceive Fair Trade products as being of a good quality (9 %) and environmentally friendly (8 %). A list of the most frequently cited characteristics is illustrated in Scheme 1.

As the scheme shows, the most frequently mentioned characteristics can be divided into three categories. The first category of characteristics focuses on the trading method – one-fifth of respondents perceive a ‘fair’ way of trading to be a feature of Fair Trade products. This may be due to campaigns organised in support of Fair Trade such as ‘Fair Breakfast’, which accent this characteristic. This characteristic is related to other characteristics reacting to the price of such products (fair price, fair remuneration, etc.).

The second category is the characteristics related to the origin of the products in developing countries and the way they are made. These characteristics are also often mentioned as part of the promotion of the Fair Trade concept mentioning the producers’ stories.

The third category includes the nature of the products (handmade, environmentally sound / organic products). A total of 8 % of respondents referred to them as ‘environmentally friendly’ or ‘organic’, which is a misconception related to the type of certification probably caused by the fact that many products are certified as both organic (bio) and Fair Trade, or by the unfamiliarity with the concept.

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