Shoppers continue to support Fairtrade with latest figures revealing that UK retail sales volumes of Fairtrade cocoa sales volumes grew by 6% and tea by 5% in 2023. And the Fairtrade Foundation saw encouraging growth in other, smaller categories: Fairtrade gold volumes rose by 25%, fresh vegetables by 15% and nuts and oil seeds by 12% – as the Fairtrade Foundation celebrates its 30th anniversary.

Overall, 2023 retail sales of Fairtrade products generated approximately £28m in Fairtrade Premium for producers to invest in business and community projects of their choice including healthcare, education, and environmental initiatives.

The UK ranks as the largest market for Fairtrade bananas, processed and fruit juices, herbs and spices, sugar, tea and wine globally, according to Fairtrade International’s latest annual reporting.

There are now almost 5,000 Fairtrade products available to buy in the UK, and all major retailers and many brands are actively engaged. Total incoming resources to the Fairtrade Foundation in 2023 increased by eleven percent to £13.4 million from £12.8 million in 2022.

Michael Gidney, CEO of the Fairtrade Foundation said: “2023 was a very challenging year for the UK economy, following the pandemic, global inflation and the cost-of-living crisis and the impact of the climate crisis on supply chains. In this climate, Fairtrade sales volumes continued to hold up well thanks to the support of shoppers and businesses. This is very encouraging to see and is testament to the fact that UK shoppers do not trade down on their values when times are tough.

Research conducted by Kantar across 2023 shows 88% of people are aware of the Fairtrade Mark, 79% trust the Fairtrade Mark, 78% care about Fairtrade and 28% actively chose Fairtrade products ‘always’ or ‘often’, despite the cost-of-living crisis.

Public support for Fairtrade remains very high and new data reveals that 43% of people prefer to purchase products labelled as Fairtrade over the closest alternative, when given the choice, and are increasingly associating it with ‘reducing the impact of farming on the environment’ and ‘addressing gender inequality by empowering women farmers’, women’s empowerment, two areas where Fairtrade has been lesser known historically.[i]

Reflecting on Fairtrade’s 30 years of impact, a study conducted this year shows that over three quarters of people (77%) agree that as a society we now care more about ethical issues than when Fairtrade began in 1994.  People also feel more connected with producers who grow our food overseas (56% agreeing with this), and as individuals, people care more today about the fairness behind their food (65% agreeing with this)[1].

Gidney added: “As we celebrate our 30th anniversary and reflect on our collective progress working with farmers and workers, businesses and consumers, it’s clear that together we have taken enormous strides in supporting millions of Fairtrade producers to secure a better deal. But the world feels more insecure than it did in the 1990s. We are seeing more frequently how shocks in one part the world can cause empty shelves and food price inflation at home.  We are as ambitious for change in our 30th year as we were when we began, and we can see that we need, all of us, to create even greater change at pace in the face of today’s challenges.”

The Fairtrade Foundation has introduced a series of first of its kind sustainability initiatives in 2023 to drive real and lasting change for farmers and workers in low-income countries

Shared Impact aims to encourage collaboration within the UK grocery sector by bringing retailers together to pool their new Fairtrade sourcing commitments to a targeted group of farming cooperatives. Expanding on the existing way Fairtrade works with its retail partners, the new model allows businesses to target salient risks in their supply chain.

Meanwhile, pioneering frameworks and Fairtrade Reference Prices now allow businesses to take up their shared responsibility to pay living incomes, living wages and long-term contracts that are driving transformative change in cocoa, coffee and banana supply chains.

The charity has warned for some time that the double crisis of climate change and inflation has been hitting farming communities overseas very hard. It says there has never been a more pressing need for fair prices and fair pay, for access to their rights and a sustainable route out of poverty, and its business partners agree.

We need to urgently focus in on credible collaborative solutions to the challenges farmers face. We live in a world where the warming climate is threatening the future of staple crops like cocoa, bananas and coffee. The more co-operation and power-sharing, the more supply chains can be strengthened. This is increasingly important as the UK becomes more food insecure”, Gidney added.

Kantar research shows that 68% of people consider Fairtrade to be innovative. “Fairtrade is delighted to be able to innovate and offer several exciting new market-facing initiatives in response to the evolving risks of the food sector.”

The news comes as the Fairtrade Foundation celebrates its 30th anniversary and unveils its vision for the next 30 years and beyond.


[1] Reference for the Q1 additions: Kantar Profiles, Sample 1258 (GB 16+), Fieldwork dates 2nd-4th April 2024.

[i] Reference for the annual numbers: Kantar Profiles, total sample: 4956 GB adults 16+, averaged Q1-Q4 2023.


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May 2024 issue

2024 A1 Buyers Guide