Speaking at Sustainability Live in Birmingham last week, Fairley told edie: “One of the key’s to our success at Green & Black’s has been the use of bright coloured products that look just as good on the shelf as anything the conventional world is producing.

“And that’s how you make the leap from a niche sustainable product to something mainstream,” she added.

Still involved in the company despite selling it to Cadbury’s in 2005, Fairley said that she sees a lot of ethical brands that still draw on the “eco palette of colours” because they want to get the message across that they are sustainable and green.

“The onus is on the brands who are sustainable, Fairtrade and green to make sure what they’re offering stands-up against what else is out there in the mainstream market,” she said.

“People don’t shop philanthropically more than once. So if they were to buy a Fairtrade chocolate bar and for it to be disappointing that can actually turn them against the whole Fairtrade category,” said Fairley.

The entrepreneur also commented on a recent ethical market report, which found that ethical product sales in 2012 increase by 12%, while ethical food and drink sales were up 36%.

Fairley said the increase in ethical food and drink is a result of the tangible impact a purchasing decision can have on the environment or a community.

“People understand the simple gesture of buying a bar of chocolate and sending a child to school or buying a cup of coffee and helping a farmer in the rainforest.

“It’s quite easy for people to get their heads round,” she added.

Fairley said there is “absolutely no reason why everything we buy from the developing world shouldn’t be done on a sustainable basis”.

For more on Green & Black’s, read last month’s interview with Jo Fairley on why multinationals are key to scaling up the Fairtrade movement.

Leigh Stringer

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