Another successful Fairtrade Fortnight (27 February to 12 March) saw co-operative retailers spread the message with food tastings, school visits and coffee mornings.
The fortnight raised awareness of the treatment of producers of food, drink and other goods around the world and how the Fairtrade movement could help them.
Events at Heart of England Co-operative Society included a visit to Hinckley Library, where babies and toddlers were given Fairtrade bananas and cookies while their parents and grandparents were told about the plight of produces in developing countries.
The society also donated tea, coffee and biscuits for all coffee mornings at the library during the fortnight.
East of England Co-op visited local schools to raise awareness of the importance of buying Fairtrade.
Pupils at the Gilberd school in Colchester, Cobholm Primary School in Great Yarmouth and Sir John Leman School in Beccles found out how Fairtrade has a positive effect on farmers and producers across the world, and held their own Fairtrade breaks with goods donated by the society
Since 2015, East of England has donated nearly 500,000 Fairtrade tea bags to support local events and on-going support groups across Suffolk, Norfolk Essex and Ely through its Co-op Cuppa scheme.
Central England Co-operative was also at work in schools, with a series of special classes to teach children about the movement.
An assembly for 140 children at Tibshelf Infant and Nursery School, in Alfreton, taught them about Fairtrade and healthy eating.
The society organised Healthy Choices workshops where children got hands on with a range of activities, learning how to make fun fruit kebabs, understand food labelling and get meal portion sizes right so that no food goes to waste.
Teacher Zoe Andrews said: “Events like these are important as the children really enjoy learning about how to make more informed choices for healthy eating and where their food comes from.”
There was something for the grown-ups at Chelmsford Star Co-operative, with a Fairtrade wine-tasting evening. It was revealed that, among other benefits, drinking Fairtrade wine in the UK allowed struggling communities overseas to build hospitals and schools, and better support themselves.
The Quadrant department store event included testimonials from farmers in Argentina, South Africa and Guatemala showing the positive effects of Fairtrade, which allowed villages growing the wines to to build education facilities, buy ambulances, employ doctors and provide farmers with health insurance.
Staff at Midcounties Co-operative stores turned their shop floors into Fairtrade classrooms for the fortnight, with sampling sessions, treasure hunts and events for schools.
Children who visited supermarkets wearing a school uniform received a free Fairtrade banana as part of the relaunch of the Free Fruit Friday healthy eating campaign, and the society introduced its first Fairtrade Shopping List recipe booklet.
Channel Islands Co-operative set nine students from Guernsey’s College of Further Education the challenge of cooking a chocolate cake recipe using only Fairtrade ingredients.
The competition was one of the highlights of the fortnight in the islands, and encouraged the young chefs to think more about the products they used and how they are sourced.
A delicious range of cakes, desserts and gateaux were created by the students and judged by food lecturer at the college, Julie Hyde, and the society’s chief marketing officer, Greg Yeoman.
The winner was 17 year-old Liam Torode who took away a prize of £150 worth of Co-operative vouchers, while Georgina Watson took second place winning herself £50 worth of vouchers.”
Scotmid Co-operative gave its backing to the Edinburgh Fairtrade Festival on 11 March, which gathered hundreds of people at the Eric Liddell Centre in Morningside.
The day featured talks from international speaker Lousi Albadawi, Lord Provost Donald Wilson and Scotmid’s head of corporate communications, Malcolm Brown – all underlining the importance of Fairtrade and promoting its values.
Edinburgh has been a Fairtrade City since 2004 and the event gave locals more insight– alongside some fun and games.
Mr Brown said: “It was great to see so many people attend the Edinburgh Fairtrade Festival – it is an event that is close to all our hearts and illustrates how important Fairtrade’s ethos continues to be.
“Once again, Scotmid were proud to be able to support such an incredibly worthwhile event and we will continue to promote the significance of Fairtrade in all of our communities.”