The History of Fairtrade

2019 marks 25 years since Fairtrade certified products first became available to buy in the UK. Here, we look back over the Fairtrade timeline, from when it was established in 1992 right up to the 25th anniversary of the FAIRTRADE Mark, which we celebrate in 2019. 


Download a pdf of this timeline 

1992 

Fairtrade Foundation established 

Following persistent appeals for fairness in trade from Mexican small-scale coffee farmers, the Fairtrade Foundation is established by CAFOD, Christian Aid, Oxfam, Traidcraft, the World Development Movement and the National Federation of Women's Institutes. 

1994 

First Fairtrade certified products

The first Fairtrade certified product Green & Black’s Maya Gold Chocolate made with cocoa from Belize is launched, followed shortly after by Cafédirect coffee, Percol coffee and Clipper tea. 

1995

The first ‘Fairtrade Fortnight’ 

The first of our regular annual event, “Fairtrade Fortnight” takes place, bringing together campaigners, businesses and producers to raise awareness of trade justice. Fairtrade Fortnight takes place during two weeks over February and March each year.  

Find out about our next Fairtrade Fortnight campaign 

1997 

FLO Founded 

Fairtrade Labelling Organisations International (then known as FLO) was founded. Today it is known as Fairtrade International and is the parent body of all the national Fairtrade organisations, of which the Fairtrade Foundation is the UK’s. 


Fairtrade refreshments in Westminster 

MPs Glenda Jackson, Simon Hughes and Peter Bottomley table Early Day Motion in support of the Palace of Westminster serving Fairtrade refreshments. The EDM attracts support from over 100 MPs. In November the House of Commons switches to Matthew Algie’s Fairtrade Tiki Caffé in all of its refreshment outlets throughout the Palace of Westminster. 

1998 

First Fairtrade honey 

The first honey to carry the FAIRTRADE Mark is launched by Equal Exchange. 


Divine Chocolate launched 

The Ghanaian cocoa farmer organisation establishes its own chocolate brand in the UK - Divine Chocolate - the only farmer-owned chocolate company in the world. 

2000

First Fairtrade bananas in the UK are launched 

In January 2000 Fairtrade bananas from Ghana, Ecuador and Windward Islands become the first to carry the FAIRTRADE Mark. Co-op and Sainsbury's are the first to stock them. 

Today, Fairtrade bananas are available in all major UK supermarkets. Sainsbury's, Waitrose, Co-op and Ocado sell only Fairtrade bananas. One third of all bananas sold in the UK is Fairtrade. 


Dubble chocolate bar launched with Comic Relief 

Divine chocolate and Comic Relief release a new Fairtrade chocolate bar especially for young people called Dubble. The proceeds of Dubble support a pioneering education programme in Ghana. The chocolate bar is sold until 2014, and the education programme continues today. 

2001 

First Fairtrade juice 

The first fruit juices to carry the FAIRTRADE Mark are launched in UK supermarkets, providing a new opportunity for tropical fruit growers to sell on Fairtrade terms. Today you can find Fairtrade fruit juice in Greggs and Co-op among other places. 


The first Fairtrade Town 

Garstang in Lancashire declares itself 'the world's first Fairtrade Town'. Over 600 communities have achieved Fairtrade status since then and there is a network of over 2,000 Fair Trade Towns worldwide.  

> Find out how to make your town a Fairtrade Town


Transport and General Worker’s Union vote to promote Fairtrade 

The Transport and General Worker’s Union votes to promote Fairtrade. The union, which has nearly one million members, passes a policy to use Fairtrade tea and coffee for all business and office purposes. 

2002 

George Alagiah becomes Fairtrade Foundation's first Patron 

George Alagiah became the Patron of the Fairtrade Foundation in 2002, hosting many major events and meetings on behalf of the organisation over the following years. 


New International FAIRTRADE Mark 

The new international FAIRTRADE Mark is launched by Harry Hill at the Contemporary Applied Arts gallery in London, replacing the interlocking ‘F’ symbol. The Fairtrade Foundation website is re-launched. 


The Co-op converts all its own brand block chocolate to Fairtrade 

The Co-op raised the bar on Fairtrade once again, converting 100% of its own brand block chocolate to Fairtrade - the first ever full product conversion by a retailer. 

2003

First Fairtrade oranges and grapes are launched 

Fairtrade oranges and grapes from South Africa appear in the UK for the first time. 

2004 

10th birthday of the FAIRTRADE Mark celebrated in the UK 

Tenth birthday of the FAIRTRADE Mark celebrated in the UK.  Fairtrade sales were running at £100m for the first time, in the 10th year of Fairtrade.


Launch of Fairtrade Flowers 

Fairtrade flowers launch with Fairtrade roses in Tesco stores. Today Fairtrade roses are available in most UK supermarkets including Co-op, Waitrose and Aldi. 


AMT and M&S Café Revive switch 100% to Fairtrade 

AMT Coffee becomes the first national coffee chain to switch to 100% Fairtrade. In September, Marks & Spencer switches all the coffee sold in its 198 in-store Café Revive to Fairtrade. Both continue to sell Fairtrade coffee today. 


First Fairtrade wines launched 

The first Fairtrade wines from South Africa and Chile are launched, with support from companies including Traidcraft and Co-op. Today, Co-op is the largest retailer of Fairtrade wine in the world.  

2005 

The 100th Fairtrade Town 

In March 2005, Manchester and Salford were declared joint 100th Fairtrade Town. Today more than 650 towns, cities, villages and other communities across the UK have been awarded Fairtrade status. 


Fairtrade cotton launched 

In November, the first Fairtrade certified cotton is launched at a press launch themed ‘Cotton on to Fairtrade’ held at the Royal Horticultural Halls, London. 


Fairtrade at the G8 

Fairtrade products were served at the G8 meeting in Gleneagles. Raymond Kimaro spoke to thousands of people at the Make Poverty History rally saying, 'We don’t want charity. Pay us a fair price for what we grow, and we will make poverty history for ourselves.' 

2006 

Celebrities back Fairtrade Fortnight campaign 

A photo exhibition featuring some of the UKs most recognisable celebrity faces goes on display on at the OXO Gallery in London. 


Fairtrade recognition in New Year Honours List 

Harriet Lamb, Executive Director of the Fairtrade Foundation, is appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2006 New Year Honours List.


Marks and Spencer commit to Fairtrade tea and coffee

Marks and Spencer become the first UK supermarket to switch their own label tea and coffee to 100% Fairtrade. 


Greggs commit to Fairtrade coffee 

High street favourite, Greggs, starts selling Fairtrade coffee.


First Fairtrade ice-cream 

The first Fairtrade ice-cream made with Fairtrade certified sugar is launched with Ben & Jerry’s Fairtrade Vanilla. 


Fairtrade at Work campaign is launched 

The Fairtrade at Work campaign is launched by the Fairtrade Foundation.  

> See how you can get Fairtrade in your work place 


Jewish Social Justice Network launches   

The Jewish Social Justice Network launches their Fairtrade Synagogues campaign.  


Fairtrade launches major campaign for trade justice for cotton farmers 

Fairtrade cotton campaign launches, including setting a new Guinness World Record for world’s longest bunting as part of a visual petition demanding trade justice for West African cotton farmers, during Fairtrade Fortnight 2011. 

2007 

Waitrose and Sainsbury's launch 100% Fairtrade bananas 

Waitrose and Sainsbury’s become the first retailers to convert 100% of their bananas, including all loose bananas for the first time, to Fairtrade. 

2008 

Tate & Lyle sugar goes Fairtrade 

Tate & Lyle announce their commitment to convert its cane sugar to Fairtrade. 


Comic Relief supports development of Fairtrade across Africa 

Comic Relief commits a major five-year grant to enable more farmers and workers in Africa to benefit from Fairtrade. 

2009 

Cadbury goes Fairtrade in the UK 

Cadbury Dairy Milk commits to going Fairtrade. Today, Cadbury, which is owned by Mondalez, has its own labelling system called Cocoa Life. Fairtrade works in partnership with Cocoa Life and, as a result, in the UK five times as much Cadbury chocolate will now be made with sustainably sourced cocoa. 


Starbucks doubles their Fairtrade commitment  

Following their commitment in 2008 to double the amount of Fairtrade sold by the world's largest coffee company Starbucks goes 100% Fairtrade for all espresso-based coffees in the UK and Ireland.

Today you will also find Fairtrade chocolate and bananas at the counter as well as Starbucks Fairtrade Iced Coffee drinks in the supermarket. Look for the Mark.  


15 years of the FAIRTRADE Mark 

The Fairtrade Foundation celebrates 15 years of the FAIRTRADE Mark with a party hosted by then Prime Minister's wife Sarah Brown at 10 Downing Street. 

2010 

Ben & Jerry's global ice-cream 

Ben & Jerry's convert all ice-cream globally to Fairtrade.  


UK retail sales reach £1 billion despite tough economic times 

Despite the economic downturn UK Retail sales for Fairtrade products break through the £1 billion level for the first time ever, showing consumers truly care about where their food comes from.

2011 

Fairtrade and Fairmined gold launched 

Fairtrade launches a ground-breaking initiative that offers a lifeline to poor and exploited small-scale miners around the world with the move to certify gold and precious metal. Miners in Fairtrade certified co-operatives will now receive a guaranteed Fairtrade Minimum Price and Premium to invest in formalising and improving their mining and business practices. 

2012     

Four-finger KitKat goes Fairtrade in the UK     

Nestle announces conversion of its four-finger KitKat bars to Fairtrade. Always look for the FAIRTRADE Mark.  


London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games support Fairtrade     

London 2012 commits to Fairtrade coffee, tea, sugar, wines and fruit served in the Olympic venues and athlete's village. 


Maltesers go Fairtrade in the UK     

Mars, the UK's third biggest confectionery brand switches its traditional Maltesers range to Fairtrade. This represents more than a 10% increase in total UK Fairtrade sales.  


UK-wide grassroots campaign network recognised as member of Fairtrade Foundation     

The National Campaigner Committee is established as a formal member organisation of the Foundation, giving the grassroots campaign movement a formal voice and place in the governance of the organisation. 

2013     

Greggs offer freshly ground coffee, tea, and hot chocolate as Fairtrade     

Greggs expand their commitment to Fairtrade into a greater variety of hot drinks. Today they also sell Fairtrade bananas and fresh juices reinforcing their commitment to Fairtrade. 


Fairtrade producers own 50% of the system  

The Fairtrade global system is now 50% owned by producers representing farmer and worker organisations. With an equal voice, producers have a say in decision-making within our General Assembly and on Fairtrade International’s Board of Directors. Fairtrade East Africa, South Korea and India are also launched through this alternative approach that is based on partnership; one between those who grow our food and those that consume it. 


Fairtrade join the IF Campaign     

As part of our commitment to Make Food Fair, Fairtrade joined the IF Campaign in the run up to the G8 summit. We asked David Cameron to tackle the issues of food and hunger and to make sure that the interests of smallholder farmers, who produce 70% of the world’s food, are at the heart of any decision making. 


1000th Fairtrade School     

Fairtrade Foundation awards its 1000th Fairtrade School status to St Maxentius Primary in Bolton. Becoming a Fairtrade school means that both pupils and teachers hear about and are actively involved in the learning, awareness and promotion of Fairtrade. The fact that there are now over 1000 schools means that an incredible number of people are aware of Fairtrade and engage with the issues Fairtrade tackles. 


Make Food Fair     

As part of a new two year Make Food Fair campaign, Fairtrade launches a new report and a petition asking the public to call on David Cameron to go further for smallholder farmers. A petition with 75,000 signatures was handed in to 10 Downing Street on behalf of the Fairtrade Foundation and Co-op and a march took place on parliament square featuring over 15,000 'mini me'. 

2014 

20 years of the FAIRTRADE Mark     

Fairtrade Foundation celebrates 20 years since the launch of the FAIRTRADE Mark, which is now recognised by 78% of the UK population. Sales of Fairtrade products are now estimated to be over £1.7bn per year, delivering an extra £26m in Premium on top of the fair price, back to farmers and workers around the world. 


Stick with Foncho!     

With the typical price of a banana in the UK over the last 10 years halving, but the cost of production doubling, Fairtrade launches the 'Make Bananas Fair' campaign to highlight the damaging effect of retail price wars. Colombian banana farmer Foncho arrives in the UK to ask campaigners and consumers to 'stick with him' and ask the UK government to intervene and stop the pressure on banana farmers and workers. Over 70,000 people sign his petition. 

2015    

Mars Bars cocoa switch to Fairtrade     

Following their Maltesers commitment Mars starts sourcing 100% Fairtrade cocoa for their Mars bar brand in the UK.  


Fairtrade Matters     

For Fortnight 2015 we fly to Malawi to film 'Fairtrade Matters'. The evocative and thought-provoking short film, made by the Fairtrade Foundation and director Will Robson-Scott, offers a glimpse into the lives of two of the farmers and workers at the heart of Fairtrade. Just weeks after the film was shot, devastating floods tragically hit the country, leaving hundreds dead, 200,000 people displaced and crops and livelihoods devastated. Malawi has a population of 13 million and is one of the poorest countries in the world. 

2016     

Queen's Award     

The Fairtrade Foundation is honoured to announce on Her Majesty’s 90th birthday, that it is the recipient of one of the prestigious Queen’s Awards for Enterprise in Innovation 2016. The award recognises Fairtrade’s work empowering small-scale farmers and workers in developing countries to drive their own sustainable development within a world trade system that is often stacked against small producer communities. 


Fairtrade introduces the Textile Standard

In 2016 the Textile Standard is introduced as a first step towards implementing a comprehensive Fairtrade Textile Programme to change textile supply chains and related business practices throughout the textile industry. 

The Standard is based on Fairtrade's existing Hired Labour Standard and focuses on working conditions, living wages and workers' rights. It requires living wages to be paid within a set time period - six years - and makes brand owners contractually responsible for their fair and long-term purchasing practices.


2017     

Retailers switch to 100% Fairtrade 

Co-op announces that 100% of the cocoa in all its own label products will be Fairtrade - everything from chocolate bars and drinks to cakes and sprinkles.  

Waitrose announce their commitment to sell 100% Fairtrade tea in their own brand labels. 


Women’s School of Leadership launches in Côte d’Ivoire 

Co-op teams up with Fairtrade Africa and the Compass group to partner on an innovative new gender equality programme for cocoa farmers, The Women’s School of Leadership. It launches in May of 2017.  


A dairy-free Fairtrade first

Ben & Jerry's launch a Fairtrade first - a range of non-dairy ice-cream 

2018     

Nespresso launch Fairtrade pods in the UK     

Following a successful programme implemented in Colombia supporting retired coffee producers, Nespresso launches their first Fairtrade certified pods to the UK market with coffee sourced from Indonesia and Colombia.  


Fairtrade reaches new heights 

Passengers enjoy Fairtrade tea on EasyJet flights following its commitment to serve Clipper Fairtrade teas on all flights. 


Brexit campaign     

As discussions continue in Brussels over the UK leaving the European Union, the Fairtrade Foundation warns of the impact that a ‘no-deal’ scenario could have on producers in developing nations.  

In September 2018 Fairtrade joins Global Justice Now, SumofUs and War on Want to hand in a petition with 67,027 signatures to the House of Lords, asking Peers to amend the Trade Bill to include a democratic and transparent process for negotiating our future trade deals. 

2019     

Cocoa Campaign     

Following the news that the Fairtrade Minimum Price for conventional cocoa will increase by 20%, as part of its efforts to increase the incomes of farmers, the Fairtrade Foundation launches a new campaign highlighting the poverty faced by cocoa farmers. This campaign is supported by many UK businesses including Waitrose & Partners who respond with a new commitment to make all the cocoa in its own brand confectionery 100% Fairtrade by the end of 2019. 


Rosine's Pop-up hot chocolate salon sees queues form down the street 

As part of Fairtrade Fortnight 2019, Fairtrade opens a pop-up hot chocolate salon named after Ivorian cocoa farmer Rosine. The celebrity-designed hot chocolates are each priced at a donation of £1.86 to highlight the cost of a living income in West Africa.  

Hidden behind a ‘secret’ revolving door, the salon is a huge hit with Londoners, keen to experience the delicious Fairtrade hot chocolates. 


The John Lewis Partnership move to 100% FSI (Fairtrade Sourced Ingredient) Cocoa in their confectionery lines     

The John Lewis Partnership (Waitrose & Partners and John Lewis & Partners) move to 100% FSI Cocoa in their confectionery range. This adds to their 100% Fairtrade coffee and tea pan-partnership commitments. 


The Time is Now climate rally 

As part of the Climate Change Coalition, Fairtrade joins the rally in July to speak out for farmers who are already experiencing the disastrous effects of the climate emergency. 


Waitrose launches the UK’s first Fairtrade Java coffee 

Waitrose invested in the community to support the process of conversion to Fairtrade. The coffee arrives in store in October. 


> Download a pdf of this timeline 

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