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Fairtrade sales grow 81% in 2007 to £493 million 27.02.08

Co-op Fairtrade bananas

Sales of Fairtrade products in 2007, announced to coincide with the beginning of Fairtrade Fortnight (25 February – 9 March 2008) set a new pace for international trade. As the two-week annual campaign entitled Change Today. Choose Fairtrade gets underway across the UK , the Fairtrade Foundation reveals an increase of estimated retail sales of Fairtrade products to £493m, a huge 81% increase on 2006 sales of £273m.

Sales have been increasing by over 40 percent year-on-year since 2002. Recent research by TNS Omnimas show that awareness of the Fairtrade Mark has now reached 57% of the UK’s population. • Fairtrade bananas are the best selling Fairtrade product with sales topping £150m, an increase of 130%. 1 in 4 bananas sold are now Fairtrade and we eat 3m Fairtrade bananas a day • Fairtrade coffee sales rose 24% to over £117m • Items made with Fairtrade certified cotton increased from over half a million to just under 9.5m units • Fairtrade tea rose 24% to just over £30m. And recent commercial developments mean Fairtrade tea should account for a tenth of tea sold in the UK by the end of 2008

More importantly still, in 2007 the real volumes (by weight or number) of produce more than doubled over 2006, which is great news for the producers whose Fairtrade premiums are based on these volumes.

In a landmark move to coincide with the launch of Fairtrade Fortnight, Tate & Lyle is announcing that they are switching their entire retail cane sugar range to Fairtrade within two years. In the first year alone, this increases tenfold the total volumes of Fairtrade sugar sold in the UK in 2007. It will also yield Fairtrade premiums of around £2 m to small-scale growers in the Belize Sugar Cane Farmers’ Association, who will be the first to benefit from the Fairtrade premiums generated. This Tate & Lyle switch is the biggest move by a UK food manufacturing company and the Fairtrade Foundation calls on other companies to follow this lead.

The Fairtrade Foundation’s message for Fairtrade Fortnight 2008 is that, whilst sales of Fairtrade products continue to soar, change is still not happening quickly enough for the millions of the world’s poorest farmers who remain trapped in ‘trade poverty’. With 2 billion working people earning less than US$2 a day and many of these producing the products we put in our shopping baskets, the Fairtrade Foundation believes that it is critical to increase the momentum for change through Fairtrade in 2008.

“The fantastic increase in sales of Fairtrade goods in 2007 shows the UK’s public’s huge and growing appetite for Fairtrade,” says Harriet Lamb, Executive Director of the Fairtrade Foundation. “After years of chipping away, Fairtrade supporters are finally beginning to make some significant impression on the way companies trade. Increasing numbers of people in the UK are buying Fairtrade goods as a practical action everyone can take to help tackle poverty in the developing world. And that’s good news for the seven million people, growers and their families, around the world who benefit from the Fairtrade system, as well as the thousands of people in this country who have been campaigning since the early 1990s to make trade fairer”.

“But the pace of change must quicken. The scale and level of poverty worldwide demands that we all urgently play our part to scale up Fairtrade. That means more companies offering more Fairtrade products and the public putting those Fairtrade goods in their shopping baskets. The Fairtrade Foundation itself is determined to open up more opportunities for more growers worldwide in particular in some of the poorest countries of the world, such as Malawi, from where I have recently returned.”

Since 2005, the number of African producer organisations selling to the UK market has almost doubled from 81 to 152, each organisation often representing thousands of farmers and workers. However, farmers’ networks are keen for the Fairtrade model to be significantly expanded in their countries, a challenge that the Foundation and its international partners are determined to rise to.

“For the past fifteen years, the Fairtrade system has championed sustainable agriculture and fairer prices for tea growers in East Africa, enabling us to survive a longstanding decline in tea auction prices.”, said Silver Kasoro-Atwoki, tea grower and shareholder in the Mabale Growers Tea Factory Ltd, Uganda. “Only by selling to the international Fairtrade market, have we had the stability to build up democratic farmers’ organisations, to invest in quality or training, and bring much needed investment to our communities.”

Other recent commercial developments in the UK include major switches from Sainsbury’s, which has moved all their bananas, Red Label tea and own-brand sugar to Fairtrade and committed to switch the remainder of their tea range plus all roast and ground coffee and hot chocolate; the Co-op which has switched all their hot beverages to Fairtrade; Waitrose which has switched all their bananas to Fairtrade; and several exciting developments in Fairtrade cotton products from Marks & Spencer, Tesco and Debenhams.

Change Today. Choose Fairtrade, the theme of Fairtrade Fortnight, is an urgent call to individuals, community groups, schools, universities and faith networks to scale up their own activity as part of the Fairtrade Foundation’s vision of an even bigger movement for positive change on trade. This is a challenge to consumers to see the regular purchasing of Fairtrade products as a long-term contribution to tackling poverty - so that people in developing countries can also bring about the changes they want and need in their lives and communities.

The full range of more than 3,000 Fairtrade certified products now includes coffee, tea, herbal teas, chocolate, cocoa, sugar, bananas, grapes, pineapples, mangoes, avocados, apples, pears, plums, grapefruit, lemons, oranges, satsumas, clementines, mandarins, lychees, coconuts, dried fruit, juices, smoothies, biscuits, cakes & snacks, honey, jams & preserves, chutney & sauces, rice, quinoa, herbs & spices, seeds, nuts & nut oil, wines, beers, rum, confectionary, muesli, cereal bars, yoghurt, ice-cream, flowers, sports balls, sugar body scrub and cotton products including clothing, homewear, cloth toys & cotton wool.

Peter Shield

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Fairtrade Foundation’s Fairtrade Fortnight

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