Sainsbury’s has become the world’s largest retailer of Fairtrade products, the UK retailer has claimed.

The firm’s annual Fairtrade sales have increased by around 10% on this time last year, up GBP218m (US$343.4m), according to figures released by the retailer.

Sainsbury’s said GBP1 in every GBP4 spent on Fairtrade in the UK is spent at one of its stores.

Sainsbury’s customer director Gwyn Burr said: “Despite the current focus on price and great value, shoppers clearly want to know that producers are getting a fair deal too. We believe that Fairtrade is a great way to provide customers with the best of both worlds – ethically-sourced products at affordable prices.”

Sainsbury’s sells over 800 Fairtrade products in stores across the UK, which it said generates an annual total Fairtrade premium of $16m, which it claims is “substantially more than any other retailer”.

Burr added: “We sell over 650 million bananas a year, or 1,200 a minute, which means a total Fairtrade premium to banana suppliers of GBP3.9m per year benefiting small farmers, farm workers and farming communities. As we add to the number of Fairtrade products we stock, we continue to make an increased impact on suppliers from poorer countries.”

In July 2007, the supermarket moved all its bananas to Fairtrade and has since converted 100% of its own brand roast and ground coffee and sugar ranges and 95% of its own brand tea ranges.

Harriet Lamb, executive director of the Fairtrade Foundation, said: “Sainsbury’s sells more Fairtrade products than any other retailer in the world and this commitment is helping make Fairtrade part of the nation’s everyday shopping habits”

Meanwhile, UK retailer The Co-operative Group saw sales of its Fairtrade confectionery increase by 26% in January. The firm is expected to release its Fairtrade figures on Thursday.