Posted on 01 March 2011.
UK sales of Fairtrade products soared by 40% in 2010 to an estimated retail value of £1.17b compared with £836m in 2009. UK shoppers are continuing to embrace Fairtrade, showing no downturn on ethical values despite the tough economic times.
Figures released by the Fairtrade Foundation reveal that every day in the UK, some 9.3 million cups of Fairtrade tea, 6.4 million cups of Fairtrade coffee, 2.3 million chocolate bars, 530,000 cups of Fairtrade drinking chocolate and 3.1 million Fairtrade bananas are consumed.
Sales of Fairtrade chocolate confectionery have more than quadrupled in 2010 to an estimated retail value of £342m, making chocolate the leading Fairtrade product by value in the UK. Sales of Fairtrade drinking chocolate have nearly trebled to an estimated retail value of £34m.
Smaller categories of Fairtrade products are also showing growth – Fairtrade spices increased 30% over the last year, and over 1 million cosmetic products were sold. Sales of some categories have had flat or declining sales – for example, fresh fruit and flowers.
Every day in the UK, 3.1 million Fairtrade bananas are consumed.
“It is fantastic to break the first billion,” says the Fairtrade Foundation’s executive director, Harriet Lamb. “Fairtrade is going from strength to strength because the public want it, it makes business sense, and most importantly because it’s working for the millions of farmers, workers and their families who see Fairtrade as their lifeline in these tough times. They’ll be cheering to know that UK shoppers and businesses still care. The challenges of global poverty and inequality are more serious than ever, especially for the farmers who grow the coffee, tea, bananas, rice or cotton on which we depend here in the UK. This first billion shows the potential for change. If the public, businesses and producers can now build on that momentum, Fairtrade could get to £2 billion by the end of 2012 . It’s ambitious, but it really would be game changing.”
Support for Fairtrade in local communities continues to surge in the UK, where the Fairtrade Mark is recognised by 74% of the public. Vibrant community campaigns in more than 500 Fairtrade Towns across the country, along with thousands of schools and universities, faith groups, are helping the public make a personal and local connection to Fairtrade.
Responding to that public support, major company moves to Fairtrade which have contributed to 2010 growth figures include Cadbury Dairy Milk, all Starbucks espresso-based coffee, Nestle’s four-finger KitKat, Sainsbury’s tea, coffee and sugar, Morrison’s roast and ground coffee, Tesco Finest Tea and Tate & Lyle retail sugar. And the growth is set to continue throughout 2011 with Ben & Jerry’s still rolling out its commitment to make every ingredient used, from sugar to nuts to cocoa, Fairtrade that can be Fairtrade in the UK by the end of 2011, and Green & Black’s conversion of its entire range of chocolate bars and beverages in the UK to 100% Fairtrade, by the end of this year.
Fresh commitments include the Co-operative’s announcement to convert all commodities that can be Fairtrade to Fairtrade by 2013, starting with bananas; Waitrose’s conversion of the majority of Waitrose Tea to Fairtrade as well as several products in the Duchy Originals range; and the spice and herb company Schwartz’s announcement that it is launching four new Fairtrade herbs – basil, mint, marjoram and dill – later in the year. Meanwhile, Aldi is launching its first Fairtrade product range, including bananas, coffee, tea and chocolate; and Sainsbury’s will offer a new coffee for Comic Relief from the Democratic Republic of Congo, aimed at helping farmers in a conflict-ridden land.
The pioneering Fairtrade companies have also introduced new products including the first Fairtrade raisins from Afghanistan launched by Tropical Wholefoods to support small-scale farmers in the Parwan province.
Against a picture of overall growth, however, some product categories have struggled in the midst of recession. In particular, Fairtrade cotton sales have declined in the past year, as ethical ranges struggle to compete with a continuing trend for cheap, fast fashion.