UK shoppers continue to show their support for Fairtrade, with new independent sales figures revealing that retail sales for Fairtrade grew by 7% in 2017, alongside increased business engagement.  

The independent data from Kantar Worldpanel underline the extent to which the UK public continue to support Fairtrade. Volumes were also up, with a 2.5% growth in the 52 weeks ending 31 December 2017.

The figures back up the findings of the Fairtrade Foundation, which show public support for Fairtrade at an all-time high. New data shows that 93% of people are aware of Fairtrade while 83% of people trust the Fairtrade Mark.

Among the best performing categories was Fairtrade alcohol, which saw volume growth of 29%, driven in part by the continued growth of Co-op’s Own Label Fairtrade wine as well as Tesco expanding their range of Finest Fairtrade wine. Elsewhere, the volume of frozen confectionary sold grew by more than 30%, with 2017 the year Ben and Jerry’s launched their Non Dairy ice cream – a Fairtrade first in the UK.

These figures represent only one part of the Fairtrade picture, as they exclude out of home sales, through coffee shops and other outlets and the impact of Fairtrade’s wider programme partnership work with companies such as Mondelez and Waitrose.

During the course of 2017 Fairtrade saw continued support from business. Among the more notable developments were: Co-op’s commitment to switching all the cocoa it uses to Fairtrade and Waitrose’s commitment to making 100% of its own-label tea Fairtrade.

Fairtrade is exploring new ways of working with business and has undertaken a supply chain mapping and transparency pilot, funded by the Department for International Development. Through this work Fairtrade is well placed to play an influential role as a partner to businesses looking to tackle human rights abuses and modern slavery risks in their supply chains.

It’s a scandalous reality that millions of farmers and workers around the world are still being ripped off, despite working hard to provide the products we love. Despite the advances made by Fairtrade much more needs to be done.

The Fairtrade Foundation is calling on Fairtrade businesses to demonstrate why they support Fairtrade during Fairtrade Fortnight and show the impact it can have.

Commercial developments this Fairtrade Fortnight include:

  • Co-op becomes the first retailer to only use 100% Fairtrade roses when sourced from Africa in all of its flower bouquets. The move will see almost 35 million Fairtrade roses being sourced from Africa each year.
  • Both Aldi and Lidl have entered into global agreements with Fairtrade to increase the use of Fairtrade cocoa in their confectionery category across the UK and Europe. 
  • Divine Chocolate announced its highest ever turnover (£14million) for the year 2016-17 with sales in the US passing the $10 million mark for the first time.

The news comes on the first day of the Fairtrade Fortnight “Come On In” campaign, calling on the public and businesses to stand with farmers to close the door on exploitation and ensure they get a fair deal.

The new figures are being released on the same day the Fairtrade Foundation unveiled a giant double doorway opening onto a scene from a banana farm on the Millennium Footbridge between St Paul’s Cathedral and the Tate Modern, London.

Catherine David, Head of Commercial Partnerships said:

“It is wonderful to see the UK public continuing to support Fairtrade in getting a better deal for farmers and workers. We also continue to see amazing support from businesses who see the value in Fairtrade and the benefits it brings.

“We are always looking at new ways of working with our commercial partners, and our transparency work will allow companies to clearly see how working with Fairtrade can help their business.

“This Fairtrade Fortnight we are asking more people in the UK to come on in to Fairtrade and help forge a fairer future for the farmers and workers we rely on for many of our favourite products.”

Tony Rowson, Head of Retail at Greggs, a key Fairtrade commercial partner, said:

“As a responsible business, we believe in doing the right thing and are incredibly proud to be a long-standing partner of Fairtrade. A number of our products, including coffee, tea, sugar and bananas, are certified Fairtrade and we continue to add more items to the menu, including green tea and peppermint tea more recently.

“Having worked with Fairtrade for over ten years now, it has been incredible to see the positive impact and difference it makes to producer communities and we look forward to strengthening our relationship further in the future.”

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From September 2017, the Fairtrade Foundation teamed up with the National Union of Students to pilot a new Fairtrade Award for Universities and Colleges across the UK. 

The award builds on existing offers, taking on board feedback from the sector in what institutions truly value, as well as what changes and innovations they would like to see. It is being piloted by 12 universities and colleges (June 2017 – May 2018), with a view to launching the new award in June 2018. 

Joanna Milis, Education Campaigns Manager at the Fairtrade Foundation says; “The current Fairtrade University and Colleges Award has been running since 2003 and started out very much about student campaigning. We recognise that there are many different ways that universities engage with Fairtrade and lots of opportunities to deepen their engagement with issues around trade and power in supply chains, and looking at the procurement and policies within their own institutions. The new award will bring together the expertise from the Fairtrade Foundation and the NUS to offer something new and exciting to support institutions.” 

Fairtrade is a grassroots movement supported by 1,174 schools, 631 towns and 7,566 places of worship that have achieved a Fairtrade Award across the UK. This new award will celebrate how even more people, including students, are helping to support farmers and workers on Fairtrade farms across the world. Growing awareness of Fairtrade will help build the market for producers, ensuring they receive a fair wage and income in order to improve the futures of their families and communities. 

Robbie Young, NUS Vice President (Society and Citizenship) says; “We’re seeing an increasing concern from students about their impact to the planet and how the choices they make affect people down the supply chain. The values of Fairtrade are part of the core values of our student movement and we should be proud to celebrate the achievements of students’ unions. Thousands of students and unions have already shown the power and value of Fairtrade but initiatives like this one will provide a platform for further success.”

Key differences in the proposed new award are:

  • The introduction of new themes and actions in the award criteria, offering opportunity for deeper engagement across a broader range of areas. 
  • The introduction of tiered award levels to enhance scope for continual improvement and long-term engagement.
  • Scope for recognition of wider ethical sourcing and trade justice efforts beyond Fairtrade certified products.
  • The introduction of an on-site audit, undertaken by trained student auditors through NUS’s highly successful existing student auditor programme. 
  • Enhanced support from NUS and Fairtrade: New resources, tools and support to ensure universities and colleges can make the most of their participation and achieve their goals.
  • More scope for measuring impact: Through NUS’s programme of student surveys and database of over 700k students, improved monitoring will show the impact the award scheme is having on attitudes, understanding and ethical consumption and sourcing practice in the HE and FE sector.
  • The introduction of award scheme participation fees for universities, (low or no fee for colleges- TBC), to ensure that Fairtrade and NUS can sustainably offer an enhanced award scheme that meets the needs of the sector and provides good value for money. 

Once the pilot is complete, an audit will take place in May-June 2018 and participants will receive their Fairtrade Awards. The awards will be launched nationwide from summer 2018.

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