Fairtrade takes off in UK

Posted: 22 February 2005

The number of Fairtrade products available in Britain has rocketed from around 150 in 2003 to more than 700 today. The speed at which the range has diversified reveals a major shift in attitudes towards Fairtrade, the organisation says.

The latest figures include 500 retail products, 200 of which can also be used in the catering trade, and 200 items which are solely for catering. Fairtrade sales are growing by around 40 per cent a year, and sales for 2004 are expected to be over £130 million.

Britain has overtaken Switzerland to become the biggest Fairtrade market in the world, with coffee, bananas, tea and chocolate as still the most popular choices. Fairtrade wine and beer, roses and footballs were introduced last year, joining fruit juice, other fresh fruit, cocoa, sugar, snacks and honey.

Fairtrade Fortnight

The theme for this year's Fairtrade Fortnight which runs from March 1-13 is Check Out Fairtrade. This is a call to check out the Fairtrade Mark, a guarantee of a fair deal for growers in developing countries. It's also a call for consumers to check out the range of products now available.

Fairtrade composite products are a particular growth area - items such as muesli, strawberry jam, fresh fruit salads, flapjacks and chocolate chip cookies which include a percentage of Fairtrade ingredients. Fairtrade ingredients must be used wherever they are available and the minimum Fairtrade content is 20 per cent of the dry weight.

"There is a tremendous amount of choice when it comes to choosing Fairtrade products. People don't realise how many products there are and how quickly the range has diversified, says Ian Bretman of the Fairtrade Foundation.

The guarantees behind the Fairtrade Mark are:

  • Farmers receive a fair and stable price for their products
  • Farmers and plantation workers have the opportunity to improve their lives
  • Greater respect for the environment
  • Small-scale farmers gain a stronger position in world markets
  • A closer link between consumers and producers
Tadesse Meskela, General Manager of Oromia Coffee Farmers' Co-operative Union in Ethiopia,explains: "With Fairtrade coffee, farmers in Ethiopia are getting their deserved reward. Fairtrade is not just a selling and buying process, it is creating a global family." Several other Fairtrade producers will also be in the UK, sharing their experiences and checking out their products on our shop shelves. They include Regina Joseph, a banana farmer from the Caribbean.

The list of suppliers of Fairtrade products can be found on the Fairtrade Foundation website.