Co-op is the UK’s largest convenience seller of Fairtrade products and has championed Fairtrade for 25 years. Co-op has had many Fairtrade firsts and as the largest seller of Fairtrade wine in the world has helped develop the UK market to become the world’s largest.
Co-op’s Fairtrade Story
Co-op is the largest consumer co-operative in the UK, unique in the supermarket sector, with more than 4.5 million active customer members, with a history of fair trading tracing all the way back to our founding values and principles in 1844. The business was born from the need for elimination of worker and customer exploitation and launched a worldwide movement.
We’ve driven forward Fairtrade in the UK, from the world’s first own brand product to carry the FAIRTRADE Mark, the UK’s first Fairtrade bananas, the world’s biggest seller of Fairtrade wine, through to entire own brand category switches, including cocoa, sugar, coffee, tea, hot chocolate, bananas, roses, and even cotton wool, to Co-op’s own programme of supplementary investment in many of our Fairtrade producers. We are proud of our long term impact across thousands of farmers and workers in our Fairtrade supply chain.
We are proud of what has been achieved but know there is still more work to be done and will continue to promote and sell delicious Fairtrade food conveniently.
Co-op were the first UK supermarket to sell Fairtrade bananas and the first to sell in all stores in 2007. In 2012 we switched all of our bananas to Fairtrade and launched our unique banana sourcing plan committing to a 100% supply from co-operatives and 50% from smallholder farmers. Today all Co-op bananas continue to be Fairtrade.
In 2000, Co-op launched the world’s first own brand Fairtrade product, The Co-operative Divine Milk Chocolate and Co-op remain the only retailer in the UK with a 100% Fairtrade own brand chocolate range.
In 2017, we extended this commitment to sourcing all our cocoa for own brand production on Fairtrade terms, increasing our Fairtrade cocoa purchases five fold. We are the only UK retailer to have this commitment. As part of this commitment, Co-op provides funding for a Women’s School of Leadership in Cote d’Ivoire, run by Fairtrade Africa the school supports the empowerment of female cocoa farmers. Our cocoa is sourced from co-ops in Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Peru, Dominican Republic and other countries.
100% of own brand sugar has been Fairtrade since 2008, and in partnership with Tate & Lyle all bagged sugar sold in Co-op stores is now Fairtrade, which supports Fairtrade producers in Belize who have supplied Co-op since 2016.
100% of Co-op own brand tea is Fairtrade. Since early 2012, 10% of all the tea used in the 99 Brand has been sourced from our unique Co-op development project in Kenya which we set up in 2009 with the help of our supplier and UK match funding. This provides ~15,000 smallholder tea farmers with market access – double the initial target number of the project.
Co-op were the first retailer to sell 100% Fairtrade coffee in 2003. Coffee is sourced from Fairtrade farmers in Kenya, Colombia, Guatemala, Ethiopia, Brazil and Vietnam.
Co-op are the first retailer to only use 100% Fairtrade roses when sourced from Africa and almost 35 million Co-op Fairtrade Roses come from Africa every year, making Co-op the UK’s largest retailer of Fairtrade flowers. We were also the first retailer to sign up to the new International Fairtrade Sourcing Ingredients model for flowers allowing us to combine Fairtrade roses with stems from the UK in bouquets.
Co-op are proud to be the world’s largest seller of Fairtrade wines. We launched the world’s first Fairtrade wine in 2004 and sold our 50 millionth bottle of Fairtrade wine in 2015. We have committed to sourcing all our South African wine, both own label and branded, as Fairtrade by 2021.