Fairtrade Logo 1

Many people say they don’t like labels, but it seems Fairtrade International imparts one buyers can support.

The non-profit certification organization announced Tuesday that in 2011, consumers spent $6.6 billion (€4.9 billion) on marked Fairtrade products, or items guaranteed to meet the organization’s growing and farming standards.

The $6.6 billion represents a 12% increase in sales worldwide.

Fairtrade products are available in 120 countries, and include crops such as cocoa and sugar, which grew in sales by 14% and 9%, respectively. Coffee sales also increased by 12%, while banana sales shot up 9%.

Fairtrade also saw strong regional sales. In the United Kingdom — the organization’s largest market — consumers bought 12% more certified goods than in 2010. That rate might increase, however, seeing as in the near future almost half of all bagged sugar sold in the UK will be Fairtrade-certified.  

Additionally,  Fairtrade’s first market, the Dutch, purchased 24% more certified products last year than the year before.

The organization’s sales are not restricted to Europe, though. In South Africa, a producer country, consumers purchased three times more Fairtrade products in 2011 than they did in 2010. Also, in its first year as a Fairtrade country, South Korea saw $20.9 million (€17 million) in sales.

As for the United States, Fairtrade predicts $1.26 million in product sales for 2011, a 10% increase from 2010.

To certify these products, Fairtrade works with 991 companies worldwide through programs designed to increase incomes and improve working conditions for the 1.2 million farmers involved.

These farmers often decide how they’d like to better their own situation. Specifically, they invested the $79.8 million (€65 million) they earned in Fairtrade premiums last year in farm improvement projects and education and career training.

“Thanks to support from consumers around the world we were able to invest in many business and community projects,” says Joseph Ayebazibwe from Mabale Growers Tea Factory in Uganda. “Fairtrade doesn’t only help improve the living standards of producers; the impact also extends to the wider community. Fairtrade consumers are supporting sustainable development across our beautiful continent.”

Founded in 1997, Fairtrade International collaborates with producers in 66 countries. National branches in 24 countries bestow the Fairtrade Certification Mark on goods from these producers.