FAIRTRADE product sales in the UK have reached £ 195 million – a rise of 40 per cent on last year.
Further increases in the first months of this year means that sales are now running at £ 200m, double the rate of £ 100m announced two years ago during Fairtrade Fortnight 2004.
Research by the Fairtrade Foundation also reveals that, while the concept of Fairtrade continues to grow in popularity with the UK public, products must become more visible in shops and cafes for Fairtrade to influence people's often entrenched shopping habits. The research was carried out to coincide with Fairtrade Fortnight (6-19 March), the annual campaign of the Fairtrade Foundation.
A TNS Omnimas study carried out for the Foundation which surveyed a representative sample of 2,131 adults shows that the public tends to stick to old habits when they shop and go for well known brands.
Despite increases in Fairtrade sales, the most common reason given for not purchasing more products carrying the Fairtrade Mark is that they are simply not visible enough when out shopping.
Over one third (36 per cent) of those asked who knew about Fairtrade cited this as the biggest barrier to increasing Fairtrade purchase, while one in five (20 per cent) admitted they were simply not yet ‘in the habit' of buying them.
Only three per cent of those who recognised the Fairtrade Mark said they were not buying more Fairtrade products because they disagreed or were not convinced by the idea of Fairtrade.
"So many people in the UK are won over by the idea of Fairtrade and want to shop with respect. Our challenge now is to make it easy to get the Fairtrade habit and switch to buying Fairtrade certified goods," says Harriet Lamb (above), Executive Director of the Fairtrade Foundation.
Around 8,000 activities are expected to take place up and down the country during Fairtrade Fortnight in workplaces, clubs, universities, cafes and restaurants, shops and supermarkets, churches and other venues.
The biggest concentration of activities will be in the 150 Fairtrade Towns, where Fairtrade is bringing together networks of supporters from local councillors to schoolchildren, retailers to faith groups. More than 20 more cities, islands, boroughs and towns are expected to have achieved and announced Fairtrade Town status by the end of Fairtrade Fortnight.
The number of producer groups has risen to 301, up from 197 last year.
Silver Kasoro-Atwoki from the Mabale Growers Tea Factory Ltd in Uganda and Ms Lamb, were both due to speak at the launch of Fairtrade Fortnight on Monday (March 6th) at Sadler's Wells in London.
Added Ms Lamb: "Fairtrade still has huge untapped potential. We went to expand the Fairtrade market in the UK so that still more farmers, workers and their families can benefit."