Global retail sales of Fairtrade products such as coffee, sugar and bananas soared by 15% last year to reach £4.4bn , mirrored by strong growth of 14% in the largest international market – the UK – to £1.8bn.
The new figures were published by Fairtrade International, which said demand for products certified under the world's leading ethical label was increasing alongside major improvements to the working conditions of farmers and suppliers.
The number of Fairtrade producer countries has reached 74, while more than 30,000 Fairtrade products are on sale in 125 countries across the world. Of its most popular, 2013 sales grew for coffee (8%), sugar (22%), bananas (12%) and flowers (16%). In the UK, sales grew from £1.5bn to £1.8bn, despite the ongoing impact of the recession on shoppers' disposable incomes.
The Fairtrade mark first appeared in the UK in 1994 on just three products – Green & Black's Maya Gold chocolate, Cafedirect medium roast coffee, and Clipper tea. 20 years on, UK shoppers can choose from over 4,500 Fairtrade products including tea, coffee, cocoa, chocolate, bananas, sugar, cotton, gold, cut flowers, wine and cosmetics.
Strongest growth markets include the USA, where sales of Fairtrade products rose to £258m since the introduction of Fairtrade in 2012, and brand new markets India and Kenya, which join South Africa as Fairtrade producer countries with rapidly growing sales of Fairtrade products in their own markets.
Germany cemented its number two market position after the UK, with consumer retail sales topping £519m following exceptional 23% annual growth. Fairtrade International reported initiatives to open up more opportunities for the people at the far end of the supply chain – now more than 1.4 million farmers and workers, belonging to 1,210 producer organisations, including local co-operatives.
Harriet Lamb, chief executive of Fairtrade International, said: "We're matching growth in the market with new approaches to deepen impact for farmers and workers. Over the past year we introduced new living wage benchmarks, piloted community-based approaches to prevent child labour, supported local trade unions to negotiate with employers… And this is only half-way through delivering on the bold new strategy we announced last year."
guardian.co.uk © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010