The ideas of the fairtrade in the fresh food industry are actively developing because fairtrade practices are discussed as a new tendency in the market world. Furthermore, fresh food retailers and customers are inclined to associate fairtrade practices with ethical practices. In order to understand how ethical fairtrade practices can be followed, it is necessary to evaluate them with references to the principles stated in the Global Business Standards Codex (GBSC) (Paine et al. 2005, p. 124).
The fairtrade practices followed in the fresh food industry can be discussed as ethical while being evaluated according to such GBSC principles as transparency, responsiveness, and dignity because the ethical dilemma of misleading customers is resolved while dealing with clients in a fair or transparent manner; the ethical dilemma of focusing on customers’ needs is resolved through respecting clients’ interests; and the ethical dilemma of the fresh products’ quality is resolved while addressing the clients’ right for health and safety.
The retailers focused on the fairtrade follow the principle of transparency as the basic norm to treat customers in the industry in order to avoid misleading clients who choose the fresh food market. The issue of misleading customers is a challenge for retailers who follow fairtrade practices because of the focus on open cooperation (Louw et al. 2007, p. 540). Thus, retailers often choose to use labels and warnings in order to provide customers with all the necessary information about products and services (International Trade Administration 2014; Smith 2010, p. 259).
The principle of transparency is realised when the trade is open and fair, and when companies avoid misleading customers and stakeholders while respecting their interests and needs (Paine et al. 2005, p. 127). The fairtrade practices can be discussed as following the transparency principle because retailers focus of attracting more customers while declaring honesty in treating them (International Trade Administration 2014; Paine et al. 2005, p. 127). As a result, customers rely more on practices promoted by these retailers because they understand that the high-quality services are the first step to building the strong customer loyalty (Richards et al. 2012, p. 251).
To improve fresh food retailers’ practices according to the principle of transparency, it is often necessary to focus more on adhering to the ethical norms than on implementing the strategies leading to the quick commercial success (Paine et al. 2005, p. 127; Richards et al. 2012, p. 251). Thus, the principle of transparency can effectively explain the retailers’ practices in avoiding misleading customers because it is important to provide the accurate information to mark different types of products.
The retailers following fairtrade practices also address the requirements of the GBSC principle of responsiveness because they focus on a dialogue with customers and stakeholders. The principle of responsiveness means offering customers the expected products of the highest quality (Paine et al. 2005, p. 131). Understanding the need of focusing on customers’ needs and respecting the clients’ interests, fresh food retailers can often ignore this issue because of focusing on maximising profits (Lewis & Potter 2013, p. 4; Smith 2010, p. 259).
Still, the fairtrade practices follow the principle of responsiveness because these practices can be considered as fair only when the needs of customers are addressed completely (Lewis & Potter 2013, p. 4; Paine et al. 2005, p. 131; Smith & Barrientos 2005, p. 191). Thus, fresh food retailers should pay more attention to responding to the customers’ expectations in order to stimulate the progress of the industry. The responsiveness of the retailers is the main step to creating the image of the supermarket of store in the industry (Round 2006, p. 257). From this point, the principle of responsiveness in fairtrade practices is a key to the development of the effective business strategy.
There are situations when the principle of dignity is not followed appropriately in the fresh food industry because the quality of the proposed products is not high, and it does not meet the fairtrade standards. Fairtrade practices are essential for contributing to the sustainability of businesses representing the fresh food industry, but they are weak in relation to addressing the concept of dignity because customers are not always provided with high-quality products (Louw et al. 2007, p. 541; Paine et al. 2005, p. 128).
Still, offering healthy fresh products, the company realises its mission and strategy, wins more customers, and states the competitive advantage in the industry (Hopkins 2011, p. 544; USD: Fair Tade 2010). In the context of the fresh food industry, following the principle of dignity means protecting customers’ health and safety (Paine et al. 2005, p. 128). The main task of companies representing the fresh food industry is to consider the needs of shareholders, customers, and employees (USD: Fair Tade 2010).
As a result, many retailers choose to focus on the principle of dignity before following the other ideas to increase the customers’ loyalty (Paine et al. 2005, p. 128; Hopkins 2011, p. 544). Thus, retailers choose to follow the idea that stakeholders should be treated respectfully, with the focus on dignity. Following these rules, those retailers who are focused on the fairtrade practices are able to achieve the success in the fresh food industry.
From this point, fairtrade practices followed in the fresh food industry can be discussed as mainly ethical in their character because of the retailers’ focus on following such important principles as transparency, responsiveness, and dignity. There are such important ethical dilemmas which can be observed in the industry as the necessity to provide open and fair services along with the accurate information to stakeholders; the necessity to provide customers with the expected products; and the necessity to provide customers with the expected high quality of products. Many retailers in the fresh food industry understand the role of these principles in maximising the profits and improving their status, and they choose to follow the honest and open trade practices as effective enough to complete in the market because these practices are related to the principles of transparency, dignity, and responsiveness.
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