Fairtrade is a good idea, but do consumers care about it? And are they willing to pay more?

The goal of the Fairtrade movement is to mobilize consumers to buy Fairtrade items and “vote with their dollars” to demand more equitable global supply chains. Since Fairtrade guarantees farmers and producers are paid better, this can sometimes mean higher prices for consumer goods.

So do Canadians actually care? Don’t they just want the lowest prices possible? 

There is actually good polling data indicating the public truly cares about ethical consumerism. StatCan reported that even in 2008, a recession year, 27% of Canadians either boycotted or purchased products in the name of ethical consumption. This figure was the same in Ontario and Quebec, though action varied by income and education levels. 

2011 data from Agriculture Canada showed that two thirds of Canadians felt their consumer habits could positively impact workers in the Global South, while the same number said that the presence of a Fairtrade label had a medium to high impact on their shopping choices. 

A 2010 survey by Abacus data also found that most Canadians would spend more to buy ethical products. Nearly three quarters of Canadians said they would pay more money for ethical products, while almost a third were willing to spend 15% or more.


There is clearly an appetite for Fairtrade among Canadians. The challenge now is to make the wide variety of Fairtrade products accessible to the public. As it stands, it is difficult for a conscientious consumer to stock their cupboards with Fairtrade without taking a day to search for it across their city. That’s why FTOE is working on creating a Fairtrade Tracker app – a one stop directory where anyone can find Fairtrade items. 

But we need help. We are currently recruiting volunteers to check their local Ottawa stores for Fairtrade products so we can log them in the Tracker. All you need to do is go to a store, take a picture of any Fairtrade certified items, and upload it to our webpage here

Thank you for making Fairtrade possible!

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