Delivering Value from Forest to Consumer

Speaking at the Delivering value from forest to consumer side event, Jeremy Harrison, FSC Market Development Director, said the organization is working to enhance its value for members and certificate holders by communicating clearly to the market about the value, importance, and relevance of certification.

“We need to increase the value of FSC markets to ensure that we have increased social empowerment, improved economies, and environment quality,” he said. “We can only do that if we raise awareness of the benefits of FSC certification, drive growth in certified areas, and share trade, and be innovative to develop new markets. FSC recently commissioned a global consumer research, carried out by GlobeScan, in 13 markets to understand their characteristics as well as consumer and stakeholder needs.”

He added that for FSC the priorities were to gain market insights that will direct the focus and collaboration with key markets.

Presenting the findings of the study, Eric Whan from GlobeScan said the research assessed the marketplace for sustainable forests products and the value of the FSC brand.

“We live in a volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous (VUCA) world where there’s low trust in businesses about their interest for our society, therefore collaboration is vital. We also have a declining sense of hope, which means we need a vision. Current consumers are [more] likely to punish companies that are seen to be socially irresponsible than reward them,” he said.

The research was done in the form of an online survey using reputable national consumer research panels to recruit respondents in the 13 countries.

“One of the findings is that drivers of forest product purchase are product quality followed by responsibly managed forests and health considerations. That means sustainable forest management is part of the value equation. The research also found that expectations are very high from consumers on issues of protecting forests and information about sustainability on products, and that certification should be done by an independent organization,” added Whan.

The research also found that half the consumers surveyed recalled seeing the FSC label and that 15 per cent of the respondents said they trusted FSC and had confidence that it protects forests.

“The potential for the FSC brand is very large: of the surveyed respondents, 48 per cent are already engaged; 25 per cent also indicated they are willing pay more for an FSC-certified product compared to an equivalent product without certification,” Whan added.

The current messaging from FSC of “Forests For All Forever” was also found to be motivating and that there is wide gap between supply and demand for purposeful companies.

“Currently, 45 per cent of people are able to name a company with a purpose and 65 per cent want to support companies with a purpose – that means there’s a 20 per cent gap between desire to support purposeful companies and the ability to do so. FSC has an opportunity because, from the research, we can see that sustainable forest management matters and those who know about FSC trust it,” he concluded.

Panel discussion messages

Karin Kreider, from ISEAL Alliance, said that the important value that FSC brings is the certification standards that provide a roadmap for operationalizing sustainability and provide a business case for companies to procure certified products.

Peggy A. Murphy, from Kimberly-Clark Corporation, said that third party certification from a consumer side builds trust and assists companies to move out of their four walls and engage with consumers about what certification entails.

Julia Young, from WWF UK, pointed out that her organization continues to engage with both consumers and companies about the value of FSC certification and the impact that it has.

The panel also indicated that there is still an opportunity to segment the markets further and draw on data on the impact on an ongoing basis, and also to recognize the role of corporate members and partners in educating consumers about forestry.