Marketing Solutions Day Sustainability

Problem Solved #16: FairTrade talks reclaiming its status in a crowded market


By Imogen Watson | Senior reporter

October 13, 2020 | 4 min read

To mark the launch of our new manifesto – setting out The Drum’s editorial mission to help readers solve their problems – we’re christening today Solutions Day on And to set the tone, over the course of 24 hours our team of worldwide journalists will be spotlighting 24 recent examples of times when our industry demonstrated its remarkable talent for solving problems.

Problem solved #16: Fairtrade’s fight to reclaim leadership as multinationals in-house certification

Problem solved #16: Fairtrade’s fight to reclaim leadership as multinationals in-house certification

Problem: As the climate crisis goes higher up on the agenda, a proliferation of sustainability schemes and certification marks are encroaching on a space FairTrade led for 25-years. There are now more than 460 sustainability stickers on food and beverage packages, with a third of them created over the past 15 years. And sadly for FairTrade, large brands such as KitKat and Sainsburys have been moving away and in-housing certification themselves.

Solution: FairTrade designed a five-year plan that included a total brand refresh to reassert itself against competition. Its mission now is to make people aware of the full breadth and scale of the impact Fairtrade can create for vulnerable farmers and workers, beyond a mere transactional exchange.

Aware it needed to fight to reclaim leadership, FairTrade turned to 2050 London and Humankind research, which helped it develop a positive, can-do narrative to open people’s eyes to the strength of the global Fairtrade community. Here’s its blueprint:

  • FairTrade devised a five-year-plan that spelled out how it was going to make people aware that its brand is more than a mere transactional exchange, and remind shoppers of the value of an independent certification body.

  • Aligning itself with the conscious consumer in 2020, over the next five years it will endeavour to make people aware of the fact that a FairTrade system empowers crucial development in communities, including building resilience to disasters (climate change and the Covid-19 crisis), establishing its women‘s school of leadership and climate adaptation plans to protect rainforests and thousands of species of animals across the world.

  • It has affirmed its position under a new line ‘choose the world you want’. It hopes the slogan will convey the power of a global community working towards a common goal.

Acknowledging the move by multinationals to in-house certification, head of brand and marketing Laura van de Ven insists: “We‘re very supportive of the fact that these companies are putting attention to those at the bottom of the supply chain. But Fairtrade is an independent certification body, which is something that we pride ourselves on. It‘s not like marking your own homework.

“We were the first in the market 25 years ago, so now we want to reclaim and solidify our leadership position.“

Read more Problem Solved articles in our Solutions Day hub.

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