Fair Trade is dead. Long live Fair Trade
Leading chocolate company Cadbury made a pretty amazing announcement last week. By this summer all the cocoa beans and sugar in its chocolate will be fair trade. Yup, that's right. Not a fair trade "ghetto" variant that raises questions about the rest of the range . The whole bloody lot.
This is the latest in a series of moves by big brands to moving their whole product range to a socially responsible platform. An earlier post here talks about Lipton tea and the Rainforest Alliance. Kenco coffee now uses only Rainforest Alliance beans.
This is a good example of the natural evolution of brands:
1. A new trend emerges, in this case the increasing interest in "fair trade" products that pay a decent wage to 3rd world producers
2. Start-up, nimble, niche brands pick up on the trend, as use it as the platform for a brand positioning. In this case, Divine chocolate for example.
3. Big brands, with big volumes, struggle to respond to the trend. They have complex supply chains and manufacturing, and the cost of changing this is huge. Whilst consumer interest remains limited, the cost does not justify the investment. Leading brands may even get attacked for their practices, such as this online petition campaigning for Cadbury to go fair trade.
4. As time goes on, two things happen:
– The leading brands get their act together, working hard to respond to the trend
– Consumer interest in the issue grows
=> We then reach a "tipping point" where the payback justifies the investment
5. The big brands incorporate the new trend, and the niche brands no longer have a reason to exist. Unless they can re-position, they risk extinction.
6. The trend is no longer a trend. Its just how leading brands are.
The good thing about moves like this one by Cadbury is that its big brands who are the true force for change. Get this. A spokeswoman for the Fairtrade Foundation said the move would result
in the tripling of fair trade cocoa sales for farmers in Ghana!