Customers want companies to use the PEFC label on PEFC certified products. That’s one of the key conclusions of our first PEFC Global Consumer Survey, which we released at the PEFC Forest Certification Week in Paris late last year.

With forest certification now in its twentieth year, we considered it timely for PEFC, as the world’s biggest forest certification system, to examine the impact of our work in the global marketplace. We wanted to find out how it meets consumer expectations and benefits companies sourcing certified material.

To date, forest owners in 36 countries have obtained PEFC certification through the endorsement of their respective national forest certification systems. This means that more than a quarter of a billion hectares of forests are now managed in compliance with our Sustainability Benchmarks. The resulting timber is used by more than 16,000 companies in 60 countries which have achieved PEFC chain of custody (CoC) certification to manufacture, trade or sell PEFC-certified products.

But what is the impact of forest certification on consumption? Do consumers value the benefits that sustainable forest management provides and the efforts of the millions of forest owners and thousands of companies to bring certified, sustainably produced and sourced products to the marketplace? This is what our Survey set out to find. Undertaken by German-based GfK, on behalf of PEFC International, it drew on the answers to a questionnaire from 13,000 men and women aged 16+ years in 13 countries, (Australia, Austria, Brazil, China, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Spain, Sweden, UK and USA).

The following is what those people told us.

  • If a product is certified as coming from sustainable forests, consumers want to know. They want to see the label. Globally, more than 80% of respondents to our survey expressed that wish.
  • Consumers also said they trust certification. In fact, a certification label is the most trusted means of communications about product sustainability – more so than proof of country of origin, brand, or recommendation by friends or media.
  • We also found consumers trust both PEFC and FSC, albeit with PEFC coming out slightly ahead internationally!
  • And for one third of consumers sustainability is so key to their buying decisions, they actively look for a forest certification label.
  • Moreover 90% said they felt shopping choices could make a difference to the maintenance of the world’s forests.

So the key message to PEFC certified companies is that using the label is beneficial. Your customers want and expect it of you. By doing so, you are also not only adding brand value to your products, but helping improve the overall reputation of wood and wood based products from sustainably managed sources.

Certification labels such as PEFC add real value to a company’s brand. This is great news for a country such as the UK which has always been at the forefront of responsible sourcing. TTF’s 2013 report on Responsible Sourcing of Timber in the UK found that over 90% of the timber purchased by its members is certified to either PEFC or FSC. So if you’re selling certified material, start labelling it – you have everything to gain