Sales of Fairtrade products in the UK are now worth more than £140m a year.

Those of you who think Fairtrade products comprise just coffee, chocolate and bananas are in for a shock. Today you can get dozens of Fairtrade lines across loads of different categories including sugar, fruit juice, cakes, biscuits, cereal bars and jams. There’s even a new Fairtrade-certified cotton that Marks & Spencer is using in a range of T-shirts and socks.

Check out any of the major supermarkets and you’ll find a Fairtrade range. Sainsbury, for instance, started selling the world’s first Fairtrade coconuts last year, while the Co-op uses the sides of its lorries to communicate the Fairtrade message. Of course, the Co-op has supported Fairtrade for years and so was responsible for many industry firsts, including being the first retailer to bring Fairtrade mark bananas, mangoes, pineapples, oranges and grapes to the UK. It was also the first retailer to convert all of its own-brand coffee to Fairtrade.

On the subject of coffee, big brand player Nestlé entered the Fairtrade arena last autumn with the launch of Nescafé Partners Blend. This is the first Nestlé product to carry the Fairtrade mark and the Fairtrade Foundation hopes the presence of such a big brand will appeal to consumers who have not tried Fairtrade products before.

A big player in Fairtrade hot beverages is Cafédirect. Brands include Cafédirect 5065 freeze- dried coffee, Cafédirect roast and ground coffee, Teadirect and Cocodirect, all of which are enjoying impressive sales growth.

The biggest sellers are 5065 freeze- dried coffee, roast and ground in medium, rich and organic variants and Teadirect in 80s and 160s.

Siobhán Molloy, general sales manager at Cafédirect, says it is definitely now a mainstream brand: “We are competing with the big players and are very proud of our performance.”

The company has achieved good sales growth through the multiples, so is now turning its attention to the convenience trade. Molloy reports that sales in this sector are up 48%. “We have achieved this growth through an ongoing promotional programme, without deep price-cutting. We want our products to be more visible and accessible to the convenience trade as a whole. We are 100% committed to increasing our distribution, which will mean even the smallest retailer can stock Cafédirect. Over the next few months we will be driving growth and building on our success with a dedicated campaign aimed specifically at the convenience sector which will include tailor-made promotions.

“We will also look to drive consumer loyalty and bring new consumers to the Cafédirect brand by adding value to our products. Our free tea caddy offer on the Teadirect range was so successful that we are looking to repeat this type of promotion in the future.”

When it comes to chocolate, The Day Chocolate Company is enjoying great success with its Divine range. However, there are more and more players entering the Fairtrade chocolate market.

Venture Foods offers consumers chocolate that is not only Fairtrade, but organic and vegan, too. It has two Swiss chocolate bars containing 71% cocoa solids - one is solid chocolate, the other contains hazelnuts - plus a milk chocolate bar.

The 100g bars come wrapped in luxurious dark red paper with the Fairtrade logo prominently displayed on the front.
“Our successful range of vegan chocolate-coated bars inspired us to develop a solid vegan chocolate tablet and, in keeping with all our foods, it had to be organic,” explains Mike Batten, a director at Venture Foods.

“We are committed to both the Fairtrade Foundation and the Soil Association, and the extra effort taken to source Fairtrade and organic ingredients has been well worthwhile. More and more people are opting for organic and Fairtrade products now and a growing number of people are either vegan or prefer to minimise dairy in their diet. These chocolate bars will appeal to these growing groups of discerning customers.”