The Co-operative is the first UK retailer to commit to using only Fairtrade cocoa in all of its products, from the chocolate sprinkles on its doughnuts to the chocolate chips in its cookies.
The landmark move means that cocoa in the Co-op’s own-brand ranges will be bought entirely through a Fairtrade cocoa sourcing programme, which has been developed over the last 12 months in collaboration with the Fairtrade Foundation.
The Co-op is calling on all other grocery retailers to follow its lead in increasing their commitment to Fairtrade cocoa farmers.
Its entire own-brand chocolate confectionery range will now carry the Fairtrade Mark – from chocolate bars and gift boxes to chocolate buttons and seasonal novelties.
The switch to 100% Fairtrade cocoa, which will include over 200 Co-op products, will be completed by the end of May 2017. It will see a five-fold rise in the amount of Fairtrade cocoa sourced by the retailer, taking the total tonnage from 526 to 2,848 tonnes.
It said its commitment will generate £450,000 in Fairtrade Premium per annum for cocoa communities, ensuring that money goes directly in to the hands of the farmers.
Brad Hill, Co-op’s Fairtrade strategy manager, said: “The UK is the world’s biggest Fairtrade market and the world’s fourth biggest consumer of chocolate, but our manufacturers and retailers still only source a tiny amount on Fairtrade terms.
“When we consider that demand for cocoa is set to rise by 30% [Fairtrade Foundation figures] over the next three years alone, it’s imperative that we keep moving forward with sustainability initiatives in order to shape this industry. We must help to improve the lives of farming communities who are still suffering a raw deal.”