UK shoppers have a sweet tooth for Fairtrade

The Fairtrade Foundation has launched its annual Fairtrade Fortnight campaign today until 11 March with news that sales continue to out-perform overall commercial trends with double digit growth...

The Fairtrade Foundation has launched its annual Fairtrade Fortnight campaign today until 11 March with news that sales continue to out-perform overall commercial trends with double digit growth in 2011, and look set to grow further in 2012 as businesses continue to expand and deepen commitments to Fairtrade’s model of ethical sourcing.
Estimated retail sales of Fairtrade products in 2011 reached £1.32bn in the UK, a 12 per cent increase on sales of £1.17bn in 2010. Cocoa and sugar have all seen significant growth at respectively 34 per cent and 21 per cent increase over 2010. Bananas, coffee, tea are all showing steady growth. Critically, this means that Fairtrade premiums, the extra that producers receive for business or social development increased by over 10 per cent in 2011 compared with 2010.
The theme for 2012’s campaign is Take A Step for Fairtrade, and a new briefing reveals that it is in the sugar and confectionery industry that businesses are stepping up more than ever to meet sustainability challenges, and deliver a better deal for small scale farmers and workers, and enable them to take their own steps towards a better future. 
One ‘step’ announced for Fairtrade Fortnight will bring Fairtrade’s share of the UK sugar market to 42 per cent. Wm Morrison supermarket is converting all its sugars to Fairtrade, stocking Tate & Lyle.
This newest move by Morrison’s builds on existing retail commitments on sugar by Tate and Lyle which became the first major brand to convert to Fairtrade in 2008, The Co-operative, M & S, Waitrose, Sainsbury’s, Tesco and their major suppliers. Brand manufacturers have also committed to Fairtrade sugar like pioneering chocolate company Divine Chocolate and the nation’s favourite chocolate treats, Cadbury Dairy Milk and Kit Kat four-finger, with Maltesers also switching later this year; and ice-cream companies are also using Fairtrade sugar – like Ben & Jerry’s which has been rolling out a plan to convert all its ice-creams to Fairtrade this year and has introduced three new flavours for Fairtrade Fortnight 2012. 
Harriet Lamb, Executive Director of the Fairtrade Foundation, said: “Fairtrade is an example of responsible capitalism in action. We believe that responsible businesses are those who don’t just tackle the company bonuses at the top – but also seek to ensure a fairer deal for the workers and farmers at the bottom of the supply chain too. The commercial reality is that forward-thinking companies are showing leadership in committing to Fairtrade, realising that, as well as it being the right thing to do, they need to invest in smallholders, developing better, longer-term relationships, to ensure the future supply of commodities like cocoa, coffee, sugar, tea, fruit and more.”
Many cafés and restaurant chains, and catering suppliers also use Fairtrade sugar, with commitments from Sodexo, Aramark and Compass. The Fairtrade campaign will receive another boost in the summer through The Food Vision for the London 2012 Games, which includes a commitment for caterers to use Fairtrade sugar across all venues.
The Fairtrade Foundation briefing Fairtrade Sugar: Starting a Sweet Revolution shows how Fairtrade has achieved such a significant share of the sugar market. While sugar is one of the most valuable globally traded agricultural commodities, above coffee and cocoa, too many sugar cane producers remain in dire poverty and sugar production in many parts of the world is becoming unsustainable because of lack of investment in farming methods and support for farming communities.

The growth in Fairtrade in recent years has had significant impact in helping farmers deal with the challenges they face, and is likely to mitigate against some of the worst effects of the EU sugar reforms. Research on The Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association (BSCFA), which supplies Tate & Lyle, and the Kasinthula Cane Growers Association (KCG) co-operative in Malawi, which also supplies into the UK Fairtrade sugar market, shows that Fairtrade is one of the strongest tools available to farmers, leading to:

• Improved productivity to increase incomes and competitiveness: e.g. The BSCFA have been able to boost the yield of sugar content in each cane by an incredible 30 per cent by improving roads and so delivery time to the sugar mill. 
• Better environmental management: e.g. KCG have implemented a tree planting programme to help prevent soil erosion and the BSCFA farmers now use soil analysis data to help them choose the correct fertiliser for their soil type so they can use less, to greater effect, saving money and benefitting the local environment.    
• Social benefits through premiums: e.g. The funding of education programmes in Belize, clean water in Malawi or health services in Paraguay, all show how Fairtrade goes beyond the immediate impact on farmers and provide impacts at the wider community level.
Masauko Khembo from KCG will tour the UK for Fairtrade Fortnight, telling Fairtrade supporters about the benefits of Fairtrade to his community in southern Malawi. The extra income from Fairtrade sales has allowed most members of KCG to build new houses. Small mud huts with flimsy thatch roofs have been replaced by larger, sturdy houses with brick walls and iron roofs.

The Fairtrade premium has been used for children’s school fees, the supply of water and electricity supply, health centres and roads. The Fairtrade premium on sugar is US$60 per tonne and on organic sugar US $80 per tonne.

• For more details about Fairtrade events across the UK, visit:

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