Sainsbury's today announced that it has become the world's largest retailer of Fairtrade products. Almost one in every four pounds spent on Fairtrade in the UK is spent at a Sainsbury's store, and the supermarket's annual Fairtrade sales have increased by around 10% on this time last year, up to £218m.
Sainsbury's efforts have generated far-reaching results thanks to the social premiums paid to Fairtrade communities across the world. The 800+ Fairtrade products currently sold in Sainsbury's stores generate an annual total Fairtrade premium of $16 million - which is substantially more than any other retailer. This means that Sainsbury's customers have contributed to the education of thousands of school children, helped to improve health and social care for workers and their families, and added to community infrastructures such as roads, bridges, lighting and wells.
Sainsbury's customer director, Gwyn Burr, said: "As the world's largest Fairtrade retailer, and a supporter since it was launched 15 years ago, we are extremely proud of our progress. Despite the current focus on price and great value, shoppers clearly want to know that producers are getting a fair deal too. We believe that Fairtrade is a great way to provide customers with the best of both worlds - ethically sourced products at affordable prices."
Burr added: "We sell over 650 million bananas a year, or 1,200 a minute, which means a total Fairtrade premium to banana suppliers of £3.9m ($6.16m) per year benefiting small farmers, farm workers and farming communities. As we add to the number of Fairtrade products we stock, we continue to make an increased impact on suppliers from poorer countries."
The scale of Sainsbury's success is thanks in part to a series of conversions it has made in major food and drink categories. In July 2007, the supermarket moved all its bananas to Fairtrade and since then has converted 100% of its own brand roast and ground coffee and sugar ranges and 95% of its own brand tea ranges. From basics tea at 28p to Taste the difference English Breakfast at £3.29, tea sales at Sainsbury's contribute £1.5 million ($2.4m) to tea producers in developing countries.
Harriet Lamb, executive director of the Fairtrade Foundation, said: "Sainsbury's sells more Fairtrade products than any other retailer in the world and this commitment is helping make Fairtrade part of the nation's everyday shopping habits. They have shown inspirational leadership in the UK and right across Europe with the conversions of their own label bananas, ground and roast coffee, own-label tea, and own label sugar to Fairtrade.
"We look forward to working with Sainsbury's in 2010 and through the next decade so that together we can tip the balance of trade in favour of disadvantaged producers."
Clothing is also a major feature of Sainsbury's Fairtrade offer, and all its mens and womens standard crew neck t-shirts - the best selling lines in the Tu range - have been converted to Fairtrade cotton, selling on average 250 t-shirts an hour. In addition, 90 tonnes of Fairtrade cotton has gone into this year's Sport Relief t-shirts, socks and wristbands available at Sainsbury's.
In addition, Sainsbury's will this year celebrate the third anniversary of its Fair Development Fund. This scheme started with an initial commitment from Sainsbury's of £1 million, to be used to support a number of Fairtrade initiatives over a four-year period. The fund was introduced to boost the livelihoods of producers who are not yet participating in the Fairtrade system, helping them access new international markets and to date has helped around 33,000 producers to date.
Commenting on the news, International Development Secretary Douglas Alexander MP said: "Supermarkets stocking Fairtrade goods give millions of shoppers the opportunity to make a difference to farmers in the developing world.
"The range of Fairtrade products has increased hugely over the last 15 years and sales have grown despite the economic downturn - showing that people in the UK are committed to giving those farmers a good deal."
Andrew Mitchell MP, Shadow Secretary of State for International Development said:
"Fairtrade helps bring stability to the lives of poor producers in the developing world. The Fairtrade movement has been going from strength to strength and today's news of growing sales marks further progress."
Michael Moore MP, Liberal Democrat Shadow Secretary of State for International Development said: "Sainsbury's should be commended for being a world leader in Fairtrade. They have proved that companies can maintain competitive prices while ensuring a fair price for producers in the developing world.
"Having brought Fairtrade into the mainstream, all UK companies should now follow Sainsbury's lead."
Notes to editors