The head of our Fair Trade organisation here in New Zealand says the lack of supermarket competition is a killer for Fair Trade sales.
The Executive Director of Fair Trade in Australia and New Zealand, Steve Knapp, has blamed the cosy relationship between Progressive Enterprises and Foodstuffs for New Zealand’s relatively poor sales of Fair Trade products.
Only 2% of coffee sold in New Zealand is Fair Trade, while in the United Kingdom it is 25%. The difference, according to Knapp, is that in England, where supermarket competition is much hotter, it was the adoption of Fair Trade by the Co-op chain that stimulated the entire supermarket trade to support the concept.
Knapp points out that in the UK, supermarkets compete for the title of most active Fair Trade outlet, while the 50/50 division of market share between New Zealand’s operators makes such a competitive environment unlikely here.
Currently Fair Trade business in New Zealand, a country noted for its social conscience in most matters, is a mere NZ$17.5 million. That is only $4.38 per capita while in the United Kingdom the figure is $25.57.
Knapp says that without supermarket competition in New Zealand, the best hope for the business here is for other companies to adopt Fair Trade as part of their marketing image. Lately BNZ became the first major local company to be certified as a Fair Trade Workplace, meaning that all its tea and coffee is Fair Trade.