Estimated retail sales of Fairtrade products in U.K. reached £1.32B in 2011, up 12% in 2010 amid major growth in cocoa, sugar sectors; bananas, coffee, tea also show steady growth

LONDON , February 28, 2012 (press release) – The Fairtrade Foundation today launches its annual Fairtrade Fortnight campaign (27 February to 11 March 2012) with news that sales continue to outperform 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, a 12% increase on sales of £1.17bn in 2010[1]. Cocoa and sugar have all seen significant growth at respectively 34% and 21% 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% in 2011 compared with 2010.

The theme for 2012’s campaign is Take A Step for Fairtrade, and a new briefing, launched today, 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.

‘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 take steps to ensure a fairer deal for the workers and farmers at the bottom of the supply chain too,’ says Harriet Lamb, Executive Director of the Fairtrade Foundation. ‘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.’

One ‘step’ announced for Fairtrade Fortnight will bring Fairtrade’s share of the UK retail bagged sugar market to 42%. Morrisons supermarket is converting its entire range of sugar[2] to Fairtrade, supplied by Tate & Lyle Sugars. This newest move by Morrisons builds on existing commitments to Fairtrade sugar by Tate & Lyle, which became the first major retail brand to convert to Fairtrade in 2008, as well as retailers The Co-operative, Marks & Spencer, Waitrose, Sainsbury’s, Tesco and their major suppliers. The ambition is to get to 50% of retail market share so, this Fairtrade Fortnight, the Fairtrade Foundation is challenging the industry to help us tip the balance.

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-cream to Fairtrade this year and has introduced three new flavours for Fairtrade Fortnight 2012. Many café and restaurant chains, and catering suppliers again 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 paper Fairtrade sugar: starting a sweet revolution shows that there is plenty of reason to celebrate the welcome news that 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. With impending EU sugar reforms looming which will jeopardise access to European markets for some of the world’s poorest sugar producing countries, poverty in sugar growing communities is threatening to increase. The phenomenal growth in Fairtrade in recent years has had a significant impact in helping farmers deal with the challenges they face, and is likely to mitigate some of the worst effects of the EU sugar reforms. Research on Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association (BSCFA), which supplies Tate & Lyle, and Kasinthula Cane Growers Association (KCG) in Malawi, which also supplies the UK Fairtrade sugar market, shows Fairtrade is one of the strongest tools available to farmers, leading to:

* Improved productivity to increase incomes and competitiveness: e.g. BSCFA have been able to boost the yield of sugar content from each tonne of sugar cane by an incredible 30% by implementing more efficient pre- and post-harvest farming practices and reducing the crucial period between cutting the cane and delivery to the mill.

* Better environmental management: e.g. KCG have implemented a tree planting programme to help prevent soil erosion and 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 and health services in Paraguay, all show how Fairtrade goes beyond the immediate impact on farmers and provides impacts at the wider community level[3].

This year’s Fairtrade Fortnight kick-starts a year-long campaign, calling on the UK public to take 1.5 million steps for Fairtrade – one for every farmer and worker the Fairtrade system hopes to work with – by the end of 2012. A special Step-o-meter has been set up so that everyone can log their ‘steps’ for Fairtrade – www.fairtrade.org.uk/step.

One of Marks & Spencer’s ‘steps’ for Fairtrade Fortnight is to sell the first ever tea grown and packed at Iriaini, a smallholder group in Kenya. Marks & Spencer shared skills and expertise on packing with the group, part-funded by the Department for International Development’s Food Retail Industry Challenge Fund (FRICH) which supports African farmers through innovative business partnerships.

Other fresh ‘steps’ for Fairtrade Fortnight include The Co-operative switching all its bananas to Fairtrade, Sport Relief’s Fairtrade cotton socks, baby skincare company Organic Monkey’s Baby’s first steps to Fairtrade campaign, and lots of in-store promotional activity like Sainsbury’s basics range of Fairtrade coffee, tea, hot chocolate and cappuccino being on special offer. There is also new product development by companies like Cadbury, with new Dairy Milk Bubbly and Fairtrade pioneer Equal Exchange will extend their range of coffees grown exclusively by women farmers.

Masauko Khembo from KCG will tour the UK during Fairtrade Fortnight, telling Fairtrade supporters about the benefits of Fairtrade to his community in southern Malawi. The extra income from Fairtrade sugar 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 corrugated iron roofs. The Fairtrade Premium has been used for children’s school fees, the provision of clean water, connecting houses to mains electricity, extending and equipping a health centre and construction of primary school classrooms. The Fairtrade Premium for sugar is US$60 per tonne and US$80 per tonne for organic sugar.

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