Consumers in the UK are now buying £300 million worth of Fairtrade goods a year, campaigners revealed today as they urged even more support for products which provide a better deal for the world’s farmers.
At the beginning of Fairtrade Fortnight, the Fairtrade Foundation said sales had reached an estimated £290 million in 2006, an increase of 46 per cent on the previous year, and 2007 sales are already running at an annual rate of at least £300 million.
But the Foundation, which licenses products to carry the Fairtrade mark in the UK, said change was not happening fast enough for millions of the world’s poorest farmers.
Fairtrade products guarantee a set minimum price for producers, as well as a “social premium” which is ringfenced for social and development projects.
The Fairtrade Foundation wants the government and businesses to take the lead in changing the way producers are treated, as well as urging individuals, community and faith groups, schools and universities to switch to more Fairtrade products.
Fairtrade Foundation executive director Harriet Lamb said: “Fairtrade has achieved a paradigm shift that has popularised the link with the farmers who grow the food on our tables that puts people – the producers and consumers – at the centre of trade, and is redefining what is acceptable behaviour for us all, from consumers to businesses to governments.
“Fairtrade is a powerful idea showing that you can and should manage markets for social and development goals.
“It is rapidly triggering changes. The challenge now is to capitalise on the current momentum and take Fairtrade to the next level.”
There are now 2,500 retail and catering product lines which carry the Fairtrade mark on sale in the UK, ranging from yoghurt and baby food, flowers and footballs to Fairtrade stalwarts such as tea, coffee and bananas.
Christian charity Tearfund’s “Fairtrade Man” Ben Clowney will be living just on Fairtrade foods for the duration of the fortnight to highlight how many products there are.
Tomorrow Ms Lamb and the prime minister of the Commonwealth of Dominica are giving evidence to the Commons International Development Committee, calling for a £50 million strategic investment in Fairtrade from the international community.
In Britain, the major supermarkets have announced the sale of more Fairtrade products, with Sainsbury’s revealing it is switching all of the bananas it sells to Fairtrade.
The company said its chief executive Justin King had been to the Windward Islands to see the benefits of the “social premium” from its banana sales, which included building water tanks, installing hospital equipment and renovating a computer lab and equipment.
Waitrose said it will complete the switch to 100 per cent Fairtrade bananas on Wednesday and is pledging to double its sales of Fairtrade products this year.
To mark Fairtrade Fortnight, the Co-op is launching its Fairtrade cotton “Bag for Life” – a reusable alternative to plastic bags which guarantees a fair price for disadvantaged Indian cotton growers.
Fairtrade Fortnight is also supported by other shop and supermarket chains, aid agencies, unions, town and city councils, churches and other faith groups.
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