Ask the Expert with Parker Townley of Fair Trade USA  5/20/2016

Walk down the aisles of any Whole Foods or Trader Joes and you will undoubtedly see a Fair Trade, Organic, or another sustainability claim on the items lining the shelves. These labels are speaking to the millennial generation, who is putting an increased emphasis on purchasing, eating and living with clean and sustainable products. As the buying power of this generation increases, it’s becoming more important for manufacturers to take clean labeling into consideration.

We’ve seen suppliers that sell products in traditional retail venues jump on board with clean labeling practices but we are also seeing more and more foodservice establishments, from restaurants to hotels, colleges, and other venues recognize the increased importance of purchasing environmentally and socially responsible products. 
During the upcoming Foodservice Natural, Organic & Better For You Efficient Program Planning Session (EPPS), Parker Townley, Business Development Manager, Coffee at Fair Trade USA will discuss findings from a study conducted by Technomic about clean label trends in foodservice as well as demonstrate how businesses can leverage and communicate sustainability to increase profits.
To provide background about fair trade, clean labeling and other related topics, Parker sat down with ECRM to answer some questions to help us learn more about this aspect of the marketplace.

What is Fair Trade?

Fair Trade ensures that farmers and workers get a fair deal for their hard work. This means better prices and wages, safe working conditions, environmental protection, and additional Community Development Premiums to invest in much needed projects like education, health care, and clean water. Fair Trade certification helps brands back up and communicate their sustainability commitment to consumers.

Describe Fair Trade USA.

A 501 (c) (3) nonprofit organization, Fair Trade USA is the leading third-party certifier of Fair Trade products in the United States. We enable consumers to shop their values and vote with each dollar for a better world. We help people and the planet work in tandem so both are healthy and sustained. Fair Trade USA empowers farmers in developing nations by providing the tools needed to thrive as international business people. Instead of creating dependency on aid, we use a market-based approach that gives farmers fair prices, workers safe conditions, and entire communities resources for fair, healthy and sustainable lives. We seek to inspire the rise of the Conscious Consumer and eliminate exploitation.

How do consumers within foodservice view sustainability?
A recent study we commissioned with Technomic found that 63% of the consumers surveyed are more interested in sustainability and how products are produced than they were two years ago. Consumers increasingly want to know exactly what they are putting into and on their bodies, but they are also seeking assurances that the environment and the people involved in the supply chain are treated with respect. This is a big shift for the foodservice industry, which is now charged with meeting consumer sustainability expectations that are influencing purchasing decisions. Offering consumers clean products with a list of recognizable ingredients builds a sense of trust between the consumer and the supplier which can work to increase product loyalty and drive consistent customer purchases.

How do consumers prefer to learn about clean food?

The majority of consumers (52%) prefer to learn about the food they eat through sourcing information provided for each menu item. Clearly labeling and communicating clean food ensures not just transparency but also helps to reflect the ingredients/processes used during production.

In-store signage and on-food packaging are also important communication methods for sustainability and clean labeling. The more ways you can share information about the ingredients used in menu items the better. However, make sure to not overreach with false claims and stay true to your broader branding and messaging. Know that consumers value authenticity and are willing to reward companies that make an honest effort to improve their offerings and operations.

To learn more about Fair Trade and other sustainability practices from Parker Townley, join us at the Foodservice Natural, Organic & Better For You EPPS taking place Monday, November 7, 2016 - Wednesday, November 9, 2016 at the Westin Cape Coral Resort at Marina Village in Cape Coral, FL.

For more information about this EPPS, please contact Kevin Consolo at

Rachel Mayfield

Director of Marketing

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