Germans' interest in fairly traded goods has risen considerably, despite a raging eurozone debt crisis. Consumers in the country have spent hundreds of millions of euros (dollars) to support the poor in the South.
The German market for fairly trade goods grew by 16 percent in 2011 from levels reached in the previous year, the Cologne-based Fair Trade Forum (FHH) told reporters during its annual news conference on Friday.
Last year, German consumers spent a total of 477 million euros ($586.37 million) on specially labeled items meant to support disadvantaged farmers and laborers in developing nations across the globe.
The FHH said domestic sales volumes had doubled over the past three years, with the most common items traded in so-called "world shops" ranging from coffee, tea and honey to spices, flowers and textiles.
Discovering one's social conscience?
"We see this trend as a sign that consumers here are increasingly interested in backing a socially conscious way of economic activities," FHH Managing Director Antje Edler said in a statement.
The organization said some 1.2 million farmers and workers worldwide were currently profiting from fair trade schemes in the industrialized world.
It expressed concerns over the current state of the world economy, saying the financial crisis and recession in many parts of the world were leading to even fiercer competition and speculation on basic commodities. This would mean a major challenge for small farmers' cooperatives in the South, putting them under additional pressure to make ends meet.