Co-op Group to increase Fairtrade wine offer

The retailer is working with South African suppliers to increase its volume of Fairtrade wine by 2.5million litres a year

The Fairtrade wine market will witness a 20% boost with the Co-op Group’s decision to convert more of its South African wines to Fairtrade standards.

The move is likely to increase the volume of Fairtrade wine sold by 2.5 million litres over the next year, once the Group converts all its entry-level South African wines to the Fairtrade standard.

The wines come from Lutzville Vineyards, which has worked with the Group to convert its wine to Fairtrade standards, which will see producers from the remote town in South Africa’s West Coast receive a guaranteed minimum price for their grapes.

In addition, farmers will benefit from a Fairtrade Premium, which will pay for two buses to give workers and their families access to essential services such as schooling and healthcare.

Edward Robinson, the Group’s Fairtrade wine buyer, said: “This is an exciting new development for Fairtrade wine and will really make a big impact to those living in this remote part of South Africa. We are really pleased to be involved in setting up this new project from scratch and look forward to seeing the outcome over the next few years. Already we are seeing interest in Fairtrade from other farmers in the region who are seeing the potential which it offers.”

Mr Robinson added that demand for Fairtrade wine was increasing among Co-op customers. According to figures released by Kantar Worldpanel, in the past year Fairtrade alcohol sales in the off-trade were up 30.7% to £94m compared with a 7.2% increase for the total category to £840m.

The Group started selling Fairtrade South African wine in 2006. Since then the Fairtrade Premium going to local communities has benefited thousands of people with services such as healthcare, childcare, education and drug awareness facilities.

Sarah Singer, wine supply chain manager at the Fairtrade Foundation, said: “It is fantastic to see the Co-op switch more of their South African wines to Fairtrade. As a result, wine producers and workers in South Africa will benefit from a better price as well as the additional Fairtrade Premium to invest in their business and communities.

“The Fairtrade wine market in the UK continues to grow year on year and the on-going support of retailers like the Co-op is vital to continuing this growth.”