Chocolates carrying labels such as ‘Fairtrade,’ ‘UTZ Certified’ and ‘Rainforest Alliance’  have seen a massive upswing in Germany and Switzerland in the past few years. Indeed, new research by Mintel has found that eight times as many chocolate products with ethical claims have been launched in both countries in 2014, when compared to 2011.

Living sustainably is not a new trend in Germany and Switzerland, where recycling and organic food have been around for years. But brands and price promotions still top the list of things that consumers consider when choosing chocolate. According to a 2015 Mintel survey, it’s important to six out of 10 Germans that chocolate brands are well-known and trustworthy, while indulgent fillings and price promotions are deciding factors for four out of 10 consumers. Ethical labels mainly serve as “add-ons” that make consumers feel less guilty when they indulge in the sweet treat.

Young, female consumers most likely to opt for fair trade

However, the Mintel research does indicate that the number of German chocolate fans who seek out fair trade options is growing. In 2014, only one in 10 consumers said that they were looking for ethically sourced chocolate, compared to one in seven today. What’s more, interest in ethical chocolate is most pronounced among younger consumers aged 16 to 24, with women tending to be more concerned over choosing fairly traded products than men.

1 in 10 consumers said that they were looking for ethically sourced chocolate in 2014, compared to 1 in 7 today

The increasing sales of good-conscience chocolate might be due to the new Fairtrade Sourcing Program launched in 2014. The initiative allows companies to use a new Fairtrade spin-off seal when they source at least one fairly traded ingredient. This enables manufacturers to shrink the price gap between conventional and Fairtrade offerings, which is one of the biggest purchase barriers for consumers.

Private labels setting fair trade trends

Surprisingly, discount chains such as Penny, Aldi and Lidl have been leading the way when it comes to fair trade chocolate. In Germany, private label accounted for almost two-thirds of all ethical certified chocolate launches in 2014. To a similar extent, more than seven in 10 ethical-certified launches in Switzerland were accounted for by store-own brands from leading retailers such as Coop and Migros, as well Germany’s Lidl.

As a result, chocolates carrying ethical claims have found a place on the shelves of all major retailers in both Germany and Switzerland. The particularly high level of commitment from private label brands highlights how fair trade goods have become a viable alternative to conventional production across retail channels.

Julia Buech is Food and Drink Analyst Germany at Mintel. She specialises in delivering insights on issues affecting the German food and drink market, providing analysis across a range of food and drink categories. Previously Trend & Innovation Consultant at Mintel, Julia was responsible for providing tailored product innovation analysis and client support primarily to Mintel’s German speaking clients.

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