UK consumer goes bananas for Fairtrade

It seems the UK is increasingly spending with a conscience. Already this year we've seen Jamie Oliver and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall prompt a 50% rise in organic, free range chicken sales and now the Fairtrade Foundation has announced sales of Fairtrade goods rose 81% in 2007 to £493m.

You know something's finally arrived when the big boys catch-up. Supermarket staples bananas (£150m) and coffee (£117m) accounted for the bulk of sales while Fairtrade cotton was up 660% to £35m.

Sugar firm Tate & Lyle has said it'll go 100% Fairtrade by the end of the year, while Scotland is attempting to become world's first Fairtrade nation.

"After years of chipping away, Fairtrade is finally beginning to make some significant impression on the way we trade," says Harriet Lamb, executive director of the Fairtrade Foundation.

As with most disruptive trends small business led the way, though.

Sophi Tranchell's Divine Chocolate is a favourite business (yes, and treat!) of Smarta and a fine example of a social enterprise that successfully entered a crowded marketplace with a premium and ethical Fairtrade product.

Marks & Spencer, Sainsbury's et al might be in on the act now – and of course that's a good thing – but the role of small businesses and entrepreneurs such as the late Dame Anita Roddick in pioneering ethical trading shouldn't be forgotten.

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