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Demand for affordable, sustainable products will drive Fairtrade in 2023

Fairtrade Premium from retail sales of bananas, coffee, flowers and tea grew steadily in 2022 as one in four British consumers ‘always’ or ‘often’ choose Fairtrade products.

As shoppers strive to become more sustainable, they are increasingly demanding ethically sourced products such as bananas, chocolate and coffee, says the Fairtrade Foundation, as its annual Fairtrade Fortnight campaign gets under way.

Affordable Fairtrade products

Even when inflation means they have to change the way they shop, consumers still largely expect businesses to do the right thing in terms of sourcing. It’s good, then, that sustainability doesn’t have to be unaffordable, says Fairtrade Foundation.

More supermarket retailers now offer Fairtrade products as part of their value ranges. These are sold at low, accessible price points (while ensuring farmers don’t lose out financially). Ranges include:

  • Co-op’s Honest Value Range
  • M&S Remarksable Value
  • Waitrose Essentials.

Lidl and Aldi are the UK’s two biggest Fairtrade cocoa retailers. And over the last 12 months we have seen the launch of Asda’s Fairtrade aisle in its online store, as well as the launch of Amazon Aware, the retailer’s own-brand range of affordable, ‘consciously created’ products certified by labels such as Fairtrade.

Consumer choices

All this means Fairtrade continues to perform well in the retail space. Fairtrade’s latest research (Kantar 2022) reveals that 77% of UK consumers have chosen Fairtrade products over an alternative. At the same time, Fairtrade Premium generated by retail sales of bananas, coffee, flowers and tea grew steadily in 2022.

This comes at a time when a new consumer poll commissioned for Fairtrade Fortnight reveals that nearly two thirds (64%) of the British public either agree or strongly agree that buying sustainably sourced food in the supermarket is ‘a lifestyle change you can make to help protect food grown in countries at risk of climate change’.

Working with partners

Fairtrade is now reaffirming its commitment to work with companies to improve sustainability in the retail space.

There has never been a greater need for businesses to prioritise sustainability, ethics and fair pay.

Kerrina Thorogood, Fairtrade Foundation Commercial Partnerships Director

Kerrina Thorogood, Commercial Partnerships Director at the Fairtrade Foundation, said: ‘If the pandemic taught us anything, it’s that the UK’s food stocks are dependent on supply chains that are, in turn, reliant on a whole host of complex factors operating smoothly in the background. The salad and fresh produce shortages that hit British supermarkets in February 2023 have served as a timely reminder of this.

‘Smallholder farmers and agricultural workers overseas who produce the food we love to eat are already struggling with fewer resources and higher prices as well as volatility in commodity markets and downward pressure on prices.

‘Now they are also having to deal with the potentially catastrophic effects of climate change, which shows no signs of slowing. There has never been a greater need for businesses to prioritise sustainability, ethics and fair pay for those in their supply chains. One way they can do this is by choosing Fairtrade.’

Sustainable choice

Fairtrade’s latest consumer research (Kantar, 2022) reveals that according to consumers’ perceptions of different ethical labels, Fairtrade performs very strongly on the environment. The figures show that when it comes to ‘supporting farmers to diversify their income to be more resilient to climate change and other risks,’ twice as many UK shoppers now associate this statement with the Fairtrade label as they do another prominent food certification scheme.

Elsewhere, Fairtrade consistently outperforms in other sustainability categories, including ‘paying a fair price to producers’ and being ‘ethically and responsibly sourced’.

Long-term commitment

In recognition of Fairtrade’s value, firms are marking their long-term commitment to sustainability through Fairtrade.

For instance, M&S Cafés have launched new takeaway cups, featuring a design celebrating their commitment to 100% Fairtrade tea and coffee since 2006. They contribute more Fairtrade Premium for Fairtrade tea and coffee growers than any other UK retailer.

Major brands and retailers continue to back Fairtrade despite the impacts of Brexit and ongoing cost-of-living-related challenges. They are making impressive commitments in 2022 to Fairtrade and the farmers and workers in their supply chains.

  • Amazon extended its existing Fairtrade commitment with an exciting new range of seven health and beauty products containing Fairtrade olive oil and shea butter
  • Ben & Jerry’s joined Tony’s Open Chain in a joint mission to end modern slavery and child labour in the chocolate industry. To celebrate their commitment, the two brands created delicious desserts inspired by each other, introducing Chocolatey Love A-Fair and Non-Dairy Chocolatey Love A-Fair, new Ben & Jerry’s ice cream flavours based on Tony’s popular milk caramel sea salt bar; and Tony’s Chocolate Love A-Fair: Dark Milk Brownie and White Strawberry Cheesecake, new Tony’s bars inspired by Ben & Jerry’s ice cream flavours. Additionally, Tony’s bars were listed by Asda, Tesco and Morrisons in 2022
  • Co-op unveiled the UK’s first Fairtrade veg tray in a special stir fry deal. They went on to become the first retailer to offer Fairtrade Ecuadorian roses in their Serenity Bouquet as well as Fairtrade olive oil. Co-op’s popular Ever Ground coffee brand arrived on shelves in 2022, with two ready-to-drink coffees and two new 100% Fairtrade roast and ground coffee lines. They also announced the first vegan Peruvian GRO chocolate bar
  • Co-op and Fairtrade Africa celebrated a successful end to the first year of the Fairtrade Alliance for Climate-Smart Supply Chains in Africa. So far over 1,400 farmers across tea, coffee and flower cooperatives have been trained on climate change awareness and reducing environmental impact. Co-op also confirmed investment in another year of the Productivity Improvement Programme in their banana supply chain, supporting farmers to improve their productivity and incomes, while protecting their local environments
  • CRU Kafe launched a delicious new coffee from Papua New Guinea
  • Ecotone launched Alter Eco chocolate in the UK for the first time in 2022. Meanwhile Beech’s Fine Chocolate converted their beans to 100% Fairtrade. Belgian chocolate brand Guylian also announced a switch to sourcing 100% Fairtrade cocoa. Hu Kitchen converted all their cocoa to Fairtrade, as did Mighty Fine, Quirky Chocolate and Sweet Freedom
  • Premium organic chocolate brand Green & Black’s announced a new range, Smooth, available in two flavours: Plain 50% Cocoa and Mint
  • Greggs fans cheered at the arrival of their Fairtrade cocoa cookie in Iceland
  • Lidl and Aldi became the UK’s two biggest retailers of Fairtrade cocoa in 2022, highlighting that sustainability doesn’t always need to come at a higher price
  • Lidl, meanwhile, became the first retailer to give its staff Fairtrade cotton uniforms.
  • M&S maintained their position as the largest UK retailer of Fairtrade tea and coffee across their Foodhall and Cafes, contributing £1.2m in Fairtrade Premium in 2021. They are celebrating their 100% commitment with a new takeaway Café cup. They also offer a selection of Fairtrade products across wine, jams, bananas and chocolate
  • Fairtrade, Ecookim cooperative and cocoa farmers and Mars launched the Livelihoods and Ecosystem Advancement Programme (LEAP) and committed to supporting 5,000 cocoa farmers in Cote D’Ivoire on a path towards a sustainable living income by 2030
  • Pure Booch launched the first Fairtrade Kombucha Brand in the UK
  • Primark announced a new global partnership with Fairtrade and launched a skincare range containing Fairtrade shea butter and olive oil
  • Sainsbury’s added to their Fairtrade tea range, with products such as their Flourish Energise Infusion
  • Waitrose’s exclusive new WholeFruit took Fairtrade chocolate to another level. Unlike traditional bars which use only the seeds, WholeFruit uses the entire cacao fruit providing a fruity, zesty taste with zero waste and 40% less sugar. Going bananas for Fairtrade, Waitrose’s Essential Fairtrade Bananas took top spot in its stores in 2022 as the most common item people buy, found in 7% of baskets.

These developments come as the Fairtrade Fortnight gets underway, running from 27 February – 12 March. As part of this year’s campaign, the Fairtrade Foundation launched The Endangered Aisle immersive experience to encourage people to switch to Fairtrade products so that farmers and workers overseas can protect the planet and safeguard the future of some of the UK’s favourite foods. More than 30 Fairtrade business partners supported the pop-up on Shoreditch High Street in London.

Our research has shown that farmers who benefit from Fairtrade Standards, pricing and programmes are more resilient in times of global crisis.

Jackie Marshall, Head of Brand and Marketing, Fairtrade Foundation

Jackie Marshall, Head of Brand and Marketing, Fairtrade Foundation: “Today, Fairtrade’s work – connecting farmers, businesses and consumers on the path towards sustainability – is more important than ever. Climate change, conflict and the global cost-of-living crisis are threatening marginalised communities in low-income countries, putting their livelihoods and the future of our food at risk.

‘However, our research has shown that farmers who benefit from Fairtrade Standards, pricing and programmes are more resilient in times of global crisis. That’s why, this Fairtrade Fortnight we’ll once again be asking the British public and businesses to get behind Fairtrade so that together, we can continue to make the future as fair as it can be.’

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For interviews, images and further information, please contact Martine Parry via:

Notes to editors

The Fairtrade Foundation was recently awarded ‘Superbrand’ status for 2022/2023 in recognition of the strength of its brand in the UK. This accolade is a powerful benchmark of Fairtrade’s value and reach in the UK and the depth of public support for the Fairtrade movement.

  • Photo credit: Mel Poole/Unsplash

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