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UK Fairtrade wine sales at ‘all-time high’

Sales of Fairtrade wines in the UK increased by 9% in volume to over 10.8 million litres in 2014, demonstrating the category’s growing strength, according to a report by UK retailer The Co-op.

Global sales of Fairtrade wines reached almost 30 million bottles in 2014, with UK sales growing by 9% in volume to over 10.8 million litres, according to a report entitled ‘Behind the Label’, published by The Co-op in partnership with the Fairtrade Foundation. Despite volume growth, UK value sales remained flat, which the Foundation said indicated a trend toward competitive pricing at the UK and end of supply chain.

The Foundation said growth had been driven by the conversion of two South African brands, Namaqua and Arniston Bay, to Fairtrade in 2014. More recently, Accolade announced earlier this year that its South African Fish Hoek brand would go Fairtrade from the 2015 vintage.

While the UK remains the leading global market for Fairtrade wine, the Co-operative is the leading global retailer of Fairtrade wines.

The Co-op launched its first Fairtrade-certified wine in 2004, a Carmenère from Chile. Prior to this, the Co-op launched an own-label, fairly-traded wine in 2000, before the Fairtrade mark was established. Today it sells 25 different wines from all the major Fairtrade wine producing countries. In the last 12 months, it sold more than eight million bottles to shoppers, the equivalent of 16 bottles a minute.

“Wine buyers can enjoy the quality of Fairtrade wine but also take heart that each glass they pour helps fund schools or running water for those less privileged”, Steve Murrells, The Co-Op’s chief executive of retail said. “The Co-op has long championed Fairtrade and we are proud of the part we have played in establishing the UK as the world’s largest consumer of Fairtrade products. Fairtrade has grown in importance among wine drinkers across the UK, as evidenced by its rising sales.”

Fairtrade wines ensure that wine growers and producers, predominantly in South Africa, Chile and Argentina, receive a minimum price and a social premium from importers. Recently a school was built with the proceeds from Fairtrade wine sold by the Co-Op in the La Riojana Province of Argentina. The Tilimuqui Secondary School was completed in 2012, with its first 15 students graduating this week. Before this there was no formal education available to the older children in this remote region.

“I’ve visited the Fairtrade projects in South Africa and South America”, said British wine writer, television presenter and broadcaster Oz Clarke. “I’ve talked to the farmers and their families. I’ve seen the vast improvements in their living conditions, heard heart-warming stories of better health, better education, better chances to lead a happy, fulfilling life. Every bottle of Fairtrade wine you buy improves the lot of some of the poorest people on the planet. Enjoy it because it tastes good. Enjoy it because you’re doing good.”

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