The Fairtrade Foundation has revealed positive volume growth in several categories as Fairtrade Fortnight 2016 kicks off (Feb 29 - Mar 13).

Sales volumes of Fairtrade tea (+3%), wine (+17%), flowers (+14%) coffee (+12%), cocoa (+6%) and bananas (+5%) all grew in 2015. The foundation said this will lead to greater financial premiums to Fairtrade farmers and workers in Africa, Asia, Latin America and Caribbean. Sales of Fairtrade gold sourced from artisanal small-scale gold miners also increased five-fold in 2015.

Fairtrade Foundation CEO Michael Gidney said: “These figures show that British shoppers remain committed to Fairtrade, despite the turbulence in the grocery market. That’s good news for those businesses offering Fairtrade products. We’re delighted to see increases in most of the categories for which Fairtrade is best known – this means more producers are getting a better deal for the food they grow for us.”

However, not all Fairtrade products fared as well in 2015. In particular, changes in EU market regulations meant volumes of Fairtrade sugar declined by 36% in 2015, compared to 2014. Sales of Fairtrade fresh and dried fruit and nuts also saw decline, as did Fairtrade cotton once again.

The Fairtrade Foundation’s initial estimates of the overall retail value of the UK Fairtrade market show a slight decline to around £1.6bn in 2015, compared to £1.7bn in 2014. However, if the collapse in the price and market for cane sugar is removed from the equation, overall Fairtrade sales grew by an average 4% in volume, whilst the retail value remained steady with around 1% growth.

Gidney added: “Sales in many commodities remain strong for Fairtrade, yet the irony of the EU flooding the market in cheap sugar at a time of increased concern over obesity is surely lost on no-one, with the added risk of pushing 200,000 farmers in developing countries back into poverty.”

For 2016, the Fairtrade Foundation remains cautiously optimistic, with recent announcements by a range of businesses to extending their commitments to buying on Fairtrade terms, including:

- The Cooperative has committed to stocking Tate & Lyle’s Fairtrade sugars in addition to its own-label Fairtrade sugar – becoming the first to make its entire sugar range Fairtrade.

- 2016 will see the first full year of sales of Mars Bars sourced with Fairtrade cocoa, which first hit shop shelves only in the autumn of 2015.

The Fairtrade Foundation’s annual national campaign Fairtrade Fortnight kicks off today (February 29) with the theme “Sit Down for Breakfast, Stand up for Farmers”, which highlights the continued levels of food insecurity experienced by millions of smallholder farmers and workers.