A CLUTCH of six new Co-op brand Fairtrade items have been launched in time for the start of this year's Fairtrade Fortnight (March 1- 13).
During 2004, Co-op stores more than doubled their range of own-label Fairtrade products and ? thanks to the latest additions ? the Movement now has a listing of 100 Fairtrade products.
These include Co-op Fair Trade Premium White Rum ? the first spirit in the UK to carry the Fairtrade Mark ? the first Fairtrade honey ale; three new Co-op Fair Trade chocolate bars and Co-op Fair Trade Organic Tea Bags.
The aim of the fortnight is to raise the profile of Fairtrade Mark products, which ensure a better deal for growers in developing countries by guaranteeing fair prices and an additional social premium.
And to celebrate the event, a dedicated website ? www.co-opfairtrade.co.uk ? is to be launched to show how the social premium is spent and the benefits it brings to the growers and their families.
Co-op stores are also reducing all own-label and branded Fairtrade products by 20 per cent until March 13th.
In addition, the Movement will be mobilising its members in support of hundreds of events around the UK, including tastings in stores to encourage shoppers to sample products such as Fairtrade wine, chocolate, chocolate cake and bananas.
The Co-operative Bank will also be doing its bit throughout Fairtrade Fortnight with tastings of Fairtrade products in a number of branches throughout the UK.
Co-op Group spokesman Brad Hill said: `It has been an excellent 12 months. We made huge in-roads into making Fairtrade mainstream by more than doubling the number of products in our own-label range and bringing the total number of Fairtrade products we list to 100.
`Total Co-op sales of Fairtrade products hit £ 25 million last year and the added social premium that Fairtrade pays ensures that thousands of poverty-stricken growers and their families can look forward to a better future.`