Retailers boost fairtrade sales

By Anita Awbi

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Fair trade Fairtrade foundation Fairtrade

Global sales in fairtrade products have increased 37 per cent to
€1.1bn (£758m) in the last year, as leading supermarket chains
switch sourcing policies to tap the growing consumer trend for
ethically produced goods.

According to the latest figures from the Fairtrade Labelling Organisations International (FLO), the market for fairtrade coffee grew 70.9 per cent in the US and 34 per cent in the UK, helped by the expansion of product lines across all the major supermarket chains.

In Austria fairtrade banana sales rose 46 per cent while demand for fairtrade sugar in France rose 125 per cent.

"The speed at which sales are growing shows an increasing demand from consumers for a positive model of trade which is fairer and more sustainable for farmers,"​ said FLO.

It is now contacted by more organisations than ever before, as retailers and suppliers seek licences to display the internationally renowned fairtrade symbol on their products.

Globally, the number of certified producer organisations has grown 127 per cent since 2001 to 508 groups across 58 countries. The number of registered traders increased 132 per cent in the same period, and there are now more than 1483 global fairtrade symbol licensees.

"Increasingly companies are knocking on the door of the labelling organisations because they want to have the certification mark on their products. In only one year, from 2004 to 2005, the number of licensees offering fairtrade certified products increased by 29 per cent,"​ said FLO director Luuk Zonneveld.

In Britain the Fairtrade Foundation, a member of FLO, said sales increased 40 per cent in 2005 to £195m, and are now running at a rate of around £200m a year.

Marks and Spencer has become the latest UK supermarket to join the fairtrade group, switching its entire range of private label tea and coffee - more than 38 lines - to fairtrade earlier this year.

Tesco sells an increasing number of fairtrade goods, including coffee, tea, herbs, bananas and oranges, as the firm strives to give consumers what they want.

Britain's Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI) said supermarkets are also starting to realise there is a win-win situation between business and ethics, regardless of consumer interest - indicating a turning point in food sourcing practice.

If a company has a value-added long-term relationship with its suppliers it can build a bond of trust - and this helps overcome supply chain hiccups.

A recent study by the UK's Co-operative bank suggests spending on ethical food, including organic, fair trade and free range, was up from £3.7bn to £4.1bn in the 2004-5 period.

This prompted Melanie Howard, from the Co-op's research partner Future Foundation, to say the results should serve as a "clarion call"​ to business and government to take the upward trend in ethical consumerism very seriously.

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