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Picking Tea, Stockholm, Sri Lanka. Taken by Zed Nelson 2003.

Fairtrade drinks - hot news for UK business

Uniquely, Fairtrade acts as a connection between businesses and local communities - especially if they are in one of the 150 Fairtrade Towns in the UK or in one of the 240 cities, towns, counties, villages and islands working towards Fairtrade Town status.

Fairtrade is more and more being seen as forward thinking and moving with the times. Interest in Fairtrade and recognition of the FAIRTRADE Mark is very big among the young with the highest recognition of the FAIRTRADE Mark now among the 25-34 age group (55% of UK adults in this age group recognise the Mark and know what it stands for according to MORI). But awareness is increasing among all age and socio economic groups which leads many cafés, restaurants and other catering businesses to feel that Fairtrade is a good fit for their target market - either young, dynamic and 'cool', family-orientated, or mature and reflective.

Switching to FAIRTRADE hot drinks has seen increases in beverage sales at eating and drinking establishments up and down the country. The Slug and Lettuce pub chain has seen a 'double figures' increase since it launched Fairtrade coffee at its pubs in April 2005. Sandwich chain Benjy's has reported a 7% increase in sales since switching its coffee to Fairtrade in November last year - fantastic bonuses for companies wanting to improve the lot of farmers and their families in some of the world's poorer countries. Estimated sales of Fairtrade coffee in supermarkets, smaller stores and the Out of Home sector rose by 34% to nearly £66m during 2005. Fairtrade tea sales rose by 29% to an estimated £16.5m.

"Everyone knows Fairtrade is good for farmers in developing countries, offering a fair price, an additional premium, environmental benefits and more security of supply, but it also makes good business sense," explains Ian Bretman, Deputy Director of the Fairtrade Foundation.

"By using Fairtrade products companies are showing they are responsive to the demands of their customers. We have also heard this from Marks & Spencer which serves only Fairtrade teas and coffees in its 198-strong Café Revive chain and AMT Coffee which serves 100% Fairtrade hot drinks in railway stations and airports around the country. This gives a wider message that these are companies which give consumers what they want."

Marks and Spencer's Café Revives have sold more than 35,000,000 cups of Fairtrade coffee since they changed to Fairtrade in September 2004 and 6,000,000 cups of Fairtrade tea since they switched in June 2005. In a major switch to Fairtrade the company has just announced that all the tea and coffee for sale in Marks and Spencer's stores will also carry the FAIRTRADE Mark.

Tea Pickers, Stockholm, Sri Lanka. Taken by Zed Nelson 2003.
Jason Danciger, Food Marketing and Logistics Director at the Laurel Pub Company which owns Slug and Lettuce, says: "Introducing Fairtrade coffee was the right choice both morally and commercially. We have had a significant amount of positive feedback from our consumers since we started to introduce Fairtrade coffee. This has given us invaluable brand loyalty and an opportunity to further share our passion about food and drink with our consumers." He adds: "Coffee sales have increased and the quality has remained consistent. We understand the key elements of our coffee business from the coffee blend to the grind, and from our espresso machines being in perfect order to our barista trained staff who are passionate about making a difference."

Emma Rickwood, Technology and Marketing Director of Benjys, says: "Since introducing Fairtrade coffee our coffee sales have increased by around 7%. We have also had brilliant feedback from our customers and staff who enjoy our products but appreciate that we are doing something to improve the situation of farmers in the developing world."

She continues: "Hot drinks are an established part of city living, with large numbers of coffee drinkers buying a coffee to 'take-out'. We believe there is a huge market for the convenience of quality coffee, at everyday prices. And at around £1, a Benjys coffee is not only a high quality Fairtrade coffee, it's available at a price that can't be matched by our competitors, encouraging more and more consumers to support Fairtrade."

Meanwhile Paul Monaghan, Sustainable Development Manager at Co-operative Financial Services, says since Fairtrade hot beverages were introduced into vending machines at Co-op Banks and Co-operative Insurance Services offices in 2002, consumption has been calculated to have risen by a third. CFS is the largest consumer of Fairtrade vending products in the UK.

Ian Bretman says by using Fairtrade companies are demonstrating they are concerned with the responsible sourcing of products and this can lead to an increase in demand. "Companies have also experienced unexpected benefits such as an uplift in staff morale which comes when a company obviously cares about people, whether it's their own workforce here in the UK or farmers and their families on the other side of the world."

Using Fairtrade has also helped businesses win awards - and has helped owners portray their business as part of a 'lifestyle' choice.

Kirsten Gilmour and her husband Alastair took over a run down tearoom in Aviemore just over a year ago and have transformed it into the highly popular Mountain Café which serves between 100 and 200 customers a day. She believes Fairtrade is part of the package which has helped her café become so successful so quickly. She also provides high quality home cooked food at affordable prices and sources ingredients locally.

She says: "The café started in a very quiet way and it has become a monster! One of the things our customers appreciate is that we sell Fairtrade. They ask us about it and are interested. I think the customers really like the fact that the drink they are enjoying is helping farmers on the other side of the world. I would say it definitely adds to sales and it encourages repeat custom. I think they like the quality of the products and they feel they are doing something better for the environment too."

Cutting down the cacao pod - Conacado Co-Operative, Dominican Republic. Taken by the Fairtrade Foundation 2002.
What is the FAIRTRADE Mark?

The FAIRTRADE Mark is an international certification label, licensed in the UK by the Fairtrade Foundation. It harnesses the purchasing power of consumers in the west to address inequalities in trading relationships, guaranteeing a fair deal for farmers in some of the world's poorest countries.

The FAIRTRADE Mark is available on products sourced from the developing world that meet Fairtrade standards. Key sectors for Fairtrade are currently hot beverages (coffee, tea, chocolate drinks), fruits and juices (including bananas, pineapples, mangoes and grapes) and cakes, biscuits and confectionery (using cocoa and sugar as the core ingredients but also incorporating honey, dried fruit and nuts).

Fairtrade standards define the minimum prices for growers' produce and determine the social, environmental and development requirements that producers must meet in order to be certified. These have a clear impact on quality as can be seen in the number of awards Fairtrade products have been winning for quality in recent years.

Close Up of Opened Cocoa Pod, Kuapa, Ghana. Taken by Gary Roberts.
Fantastic Fairtrade Facts

* Sales of products with the FAIRTRADE Mark have continued to rise by around 40% a year and sales figures for 2005 show an estimated value of £195million.

* Recent major developments include Marks & Spencer becoming the first high street retailer to offer a range of items, from T-shirts to socks, made with Fairtrade certified cotton in 40 flagship stores. Sainsbury's have switched 75 percent of their rose bouquets to Fairtrade. Sainsbury's will also sell the first babyfood to carry the FAIRTRADE Mark - Plum Baby banana and mango. Fairtrade nuts will be in UK supermarkets for the first time - brazil nuts at branches of Tesco and roasted, salted peanuts at the Co-Op Nationwide. Sales of Fairtrade fresh fruit are rising fastest at Asda. All Caribbean bananas at Waitrose, loose and bagged, now carry the FAIRTRADE Mark.

* Virgin Trains has announced that it is switching all the tea, coffee, sugar and chocolate sprinkles on board to Fairtrade and will also be working to introduce Fairtrade into its executive lounges. All hot drinks in Slug and Lettuce pubs are Fairtrade, as is all coffee sold by Benjy's. Marks and Spencer have 100% Fairtrade coffee and tea in their 198 Café Revive outlets and the same is true of the AMT Coffee chain.

* At present, the British public are drinking more than 4.3million Fairtrade hot drinks each day and munching through 750,000 Fairtrade bananas every day.

* Cafédirect, a Fairtrade licensee, is now the 6th largest coffee brand in the UK. The Fairtrade tea it produces - Teadirect - is the fastest growing tea brand in the UK and currently the 8th largest tea brand in the market.

* In 2003 there were around 150 certified Fairtrade products. The Fairtrade Foundation now certifies over 1,500 products from over 212 companies.

* The Fairtrade Foundation has increased dramatically the range of products on offer with the recent launch of Fairtrade cotton, the first Fairtrade yoghurt, herbs and spices, brazil nuts and roasted, salted peanuts, raisins, avocados and a year-round supply of citrus. This is enabling more and more producer groups to enter Fairtrade. The Foundation has focused in particular on working with African groups. Consequently, there are now 98 producer groups in 20 countries across Africa selling produce including nuts, coffee, tea, other beverages, fruits, spices, flowers, cocoa, cereal, wine and honey.

* Worldwide, the Fairtrade labelling network is working with 548 producer organisations and more than 650 traders, with benefits reaching 5 million people - farmers, workers and their families.

* Fairtrade is delivering significant benefits back to producers giving them access to new markets and a guaranteed price. Latest figures for 2004/05 show that Fairtrade sales right across the 20 consumer countries now in the network, reached $1bn, delivering an extra $100m back to producers across the globe - money invested in building their businesses as well as community projects, often focusing on education, health or the environment. For example, producer organisations often decide to use the Fairtrade premium to build/improve schools, or scholarships for children to go to secondary education - because the next generation is their future.

* The Fairtrade Foundation was voted Britain's Most Innovative Charity as part of the Third Sector magazine awards for Britain's Most Admired Charities in November 2005. The FAIRTRADE Mark has also been named winner of the Special Recognition prize in the 'media and services' category at the Superbrands Awards 2005, beating AOL, BT and The Times.

* Public support for Fairtrade is shown in the enormous growth of the Fairtrade Towns campaign which now includes over 150 declared Fairtrade Towns. More than 220 additional towns are actively running Fairtrade Towns campaigns. There are now around 2,000 Fairtrade churches and 22 Fairtrade Universities as well.

* This all has an impact on the public's awareness of Fairtrade. A 2005 MORI poll showed that the number of people who recognise the FAIRTRADE Mark had leapt by 11 percentage points to 50%. For those who buy Fairtrade products, 83% rated the independent guarantee of the FAIRTRADE Mark as important to them.

Click here to go to the Fair Trade Association's Website -
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