FOLLOWING the world's largest consumer poll on ethical food policy, involving over 100,000 members and 12 retail societies, the Co-operative Group has announced a range of initiatives aimed at tackling key areas of concern.
Eggs from caged hens will be banned immediately from Co-op stores; all own-brand hot beverages will be converted to Fairtrade; own-brand wine packaging will be drastically reduced and 66 more pesticides have been added to the Movement's prohibited list.
The actions follow a six-month consultation programme with Co-op members on the development of the food ethical policy launched last September.
When asked to name one area of priority, three main categories were identified as the biggest causes of concern: ethical trading (27 per cent), animal welfare (25 per cent) and the environment (22 per cent).
As a result, Co-op stores will become the first in the UK to convert their entire own-brand hot beverage category – worth over £ 16 million annually – to Fairtrade. The Group, which created history by converting Co-op-brand coffee to Fairtrade, is now switching all Co-operative tea to Fairtrade, along with the rest of its hot chocolate range.
The Co-op broke ranks with the industry back in 1995 when it became the first retailer to label eggs "Intensively Produced", a technically illegal step, which led to a change in the law and to eggs being labelled "From Caged Hens".
The Group launched the world's lightest whisky bottle last year and, as part of the response to the food ethics survey, has now announced that the glass used for the bottles for 26 different wines – amounting to 8.2 million bottles per annum – will be dramatically reduced, saving a total of 450 tonnes of glass each year.
- Further details in Co-op News, published Tuesday 5th February.