Mary Jo Cook, chief impact office of Fair Trade USA, works to increase fair trade awareness and demand and to improve product sourcing. We spoke to her to find out what the eye-cathing new Fair Trade Certified label is all about.
Natural Foods Merchandiser: Why did you redesign?
Mary Jo Cook: We wanted to increase the shelf-pop of the label, which hadn’t been updated since it was launched in the late 1990s. It was important to make the words Fair Trade Certified more clear, because that’s the phrase consumers are looking for. We added green to bring in the environmental aspects of fair trade. The redesign also allows producers to use the Fair Trade USA certification mark in any country.
NFM: What’s the difference between a full Fair Trade Certified label and the multiple ingredients label?
MJC: Our new policy requires that 100 percent of a product’s content be Fair Trade Certified to use the full label. To use the ingredients label, 100 percent of any ingredient in a product must be Fair Trade Certified. With our old label, you had to look closely to see the difference between ingredient certified and fully certified, but with this new design, we use the word ingredients as an interrupter. Now it’s really clear that there are two different labels.
NFM: What’s been the response?
MJC: Because it stands out much better on the shelf and communicates more clearly that a product is Fair Trade Certified, retailers and manufacturers seem to love it. Most companies want to create more transparency, and this new label helps them do that.
NFM: How can retailers best communicate fair trade’s value to shoppers?
MJC: We have found that when retailers are willing to do in-store signage with simple messages like “Fair Trade Certified: Every purchase matters,” sales of certified items can increase by as much as 40 percent. Clear signage alerts customers to the fact that buying a Fair Trade Certified product makes a difference toward creating a better supply chain and, by the same token, a better world. Shoppers who frequent natural products stores tend to be very involved in social issues, so this type of messaging is relevant to them.