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The Huffington Post carries a story saying that “ sales of products with Fair Trade USA's seal of approval for ethics and sustainability rose 75 percent in the fourth quarter of last year over the first quarter of 2011 ... The spike in sales took place even though fair trade-certified products, about 95 percent of which are edible goods, almost always cost more than alternative items.”

The data was compiled by retail research company Spins.

According to Mary Jo Cook, chief impact officer of Fair Trade USA, “a major reason for the tremendous growth in sales is the recent embrace of fair trade by a few major brands ... Ben & Jerry's, for example, committed to using fair trade ingredients in February 2010 and has slowly been moving toward universal adoption for all its products. That means that some consumers may have started to buy fair trade-certified products without realizing.”

However, Cook also says that there is evidence that “many customers are more concerned about ethics than they used to be.”
KC's View:
I’m a little skeptical ... the same way I was skeptical yesterday about a study suggesting that people were willing to spend more on environmentally friendly packaging. Not totally disbelieving, but skeptical.

I think they want to, and want to think they do. But these are tough times for a lot of folks, and compromises sometimes have to be made.

That said, I was gobsmacked by the MNB user to responded to yesterday’s story by writing:

Perception Research Services probably did the survey among people living in San Francisco who also drive Chevy Volts. Morons.

That just strikes me as so unfairly dismissive.

I like that people want to do the right thing.

Unless, of course, you actually think that it somehow is better to have packaging that is not environmentally friendly. Or to not buy Fair Trade products.

I just can’t be that cynical. And I’m capable of a lot of cynicism.