Fairtrade sales top GBP1bn

Fairtrade sales top GBP1bn

Sales of Fairtrade products have bucked the recession in the UK, rising by 40% and topping the GBP1bn (US1.6bn) mark for the first time.

As it launched Fairtrade Fortnight, the Fairtrade Foundation reported that sales of Fairtrade products rose by 40% in 2010 to an estimated retail value of GBP1.17bn. The organisation said it demonstrated that UK shoppers are continuing to show their ethical values despite the tough times.

"It is fantastic to break the first billion," Fairtrade Foundation executive director Harriet Lamb said. "Fairtrade is going from strength-to-strength because the public want it, it makes business sense, and most importantly because it's working for the millions of farmers, workers and their families who see Fairtrade as their lifeline in these tough times. They'll be cheering to know that UK shoppers and businesses still care."

Boosted by the entry of some high-volume brands, notably Nestlé's four-finger Kit Kat and Cadbury's Dairy Milk, chocolate sales grew fourfold in 2010 to reach GBP342m, making chocolate the biggest Fairtrade category by value.

Established categories like coffee and tea also grew, with volumes rising by 16% to just over 14,000 tonnes. Tea volumes were up by 5%. Among the smaller categories, sales of Fairtrade spices rose by 30%.

The Fairtrade Foundation is forecasting the growth to continue in 2011 as major companies step up their commitments. In addition to already stated undertakings by brands such as Ben & Jerry's and Green & Black's, in the lead up to Fairtrade Fortnight The Co-operative pledged to convert all commodities that can be Fairtrade to Fairtrade by 2013.

Waitrose is to convert the majority of Waitrose-brand Tea to Fairtrade as well as several products in its Duchy Originals range, while spice and herb company Schwartz is launching four new Fairtrade herbs, and Aldi is launching its first Fairtrade product range, including bananas, coffee, tea and chocolate.

Meanwhile, Tropical Wholefoods is launching Fairtrade raisins from Afghanistan. Away from the food sector, the UK is to see the world's first Fairtrade-labelled gold from artisanal miners in Colombia, Peru and Bolivia.

Lamb continued: "The challenges of global poverty and inequality are more serious than ever, especially for the farmers who grow the coffee, tea, bananas, rice or cotton on which we depend here in the UK. This first billion shows the potential for change. If the public, businesses and producers can now build on that momentum, Fairtrade could get to GBP2 bn by the end of 2012. It's ambitious, but it really would be game changing."

The Fairtrade Foundation also stresses that Fairtrade Fortnight is about celebrating the grassroots campaign behind the mark. Typically as many as 12,000 events are held during the two weeks, including coffee mornings, debates, suppers, quizzes and fashion shows. This year marks the creation of the 500th Fairtrade School in the UK.