Sainsbury’s has recorded its best week of fair trade sales ever, with sales well over the GBP1m (US$1.747m) mark, demonstrating the increasing popularity of fair trade products, the retailer said today (15 March).

Last week was the first week of fair trade fortnight when consumer exposure to fair trade is at a maximum. Nevertheless, Sainsbury’s spokesperson Hannah Chance told just-food that the increase was not only the consequence of increased marketing activity. Sales last week were up by 70% over levels reported during the first week of fair trade fortnight last year.

“Obviously fair trade fortnight is a time when retailers increase the promotion of fair trade products, but this year’s sales have gone up by 70% from sales made during fair trade fortnight last year,” she observed.

“This year Sainsbury’s has increased its commitment to fair trade, becoming the biggest fair trade retailer in the UK. More product lines have become available – you can now buy more than bananas, coffee and coco – and this may be a factor in the marked sales increase.”

Sainsbury, who account for 34% of the fair trade market, has also attributed the dramatic increase to the rise of the “conscience consumer”.  The company said that it has seen fair trade sales grow significantly in the last eight weeks, comparing the rise to the prolific growth in the organic food market seen over the last 12-months.