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Fairtrade fastest growing sector in the UK market 26.02.07

UK sales of Fairtrade products have almost doubled within the last 12 months and now stand at least £300 million per year, according to the Fairtrade Foundation, which is now seeking £50 million from governments in the UK and abroad to finance its growth.

At a dinner this evening [26.02.07] at Lloyd’s of London to mark the start of ‘Fairtrade Fortnight’ in the UK, Harriet Lamb, the executive director of the Fairtrade Foundation will reveal that sales of Fairtrade certified products reached an estimated retail value of £290 million in 2006, an increase of 46% over the past year. In 2007 sales are already running at an annual rate of at least £300 million. Meanwhile the actual volumes of products, the benchmark for defining the real benefit returned to producers, have risen by over 60%. Lamb’s remarks come the day before she will give evidence at the first meeting with Members of Parliament at a House of Commons international select committee inquiry into fair trade. She will be joined by Roosevelt Skerrit, Prime Minister of the Commonwealth of Dominica, Mike Barry, head of corporate and social responsibility at Marks & Spencer, along with representatives from coffee chain Starbucks. The submission from Lamb to the select committee argues that with modest donor funding, the Fairtrade Foundation has been able to lift Fairtrade to a new level in the UK market, with 50% of the public now recognising the ‘Fairtrade’ Mark and sales growing at 40% year-on-year. “What is needed at this crucial turning point is substantial and strategic donor investment in order to ensure that the significant market development opportunities achieved in the North can be maximised for the benefit of producers and workers in developing countries,” she said. The Foundation is working with over 262 licensees in Great Britain, covering all of the major supermarkets, many independent stores, wholesalers and catering companies, offering over 2,500 products to the public in the UK alone. The bulk of Fairtrade produce sold in the UK is in the foodstuffs market with consumers already familiar with ‘Fairtrade’ tea, coffee and bananas. However, last year UK consumers spent more than £5 million on Fairtrade cotton goods alone. Significant new developments include Next and Debenhams launching their first clothes made with Fairtrade certified cotton, whilst Marks & Spencer is increasing its range to provide an ‘outfit for all the family’ and raising its Fairtrade cotton quota from 100 to 6,000 tonnes by next year. As well as promoting Fairtrade Fortnight with national TV advertising, the Co-op will launch Fairtrade cotton shopping bags. Boots is launching a range of babywear from Hug called Little Green Radicals and TK Maxx is selling this year’s Comic Relief T shirts which are made of Fairtrade Certified Cotton. High street chain Monsoon is launching a new range of T shirts using Fairtrade Certified Cotton in Spring, and Top Shop is about to launch a range of clothing with the fair trade pioneer company People Tree called ‘People Tree for Top Shop’.

Peter Shield

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