Fairtrade fruit supplier Agrofair is targeting aggressive expansion under the leadership of new MD John Bowes.

The Fairtrade movement had failed to communicate the full benefits of buying accredited products to consumers, he said.

As a result, the market had barely been tapped in the UK, with potential for sales to grow at more than 50% a year.

"Fairtrade could and should be an awful lot bigger. If, in two years time, we haven't demonstrated some pretty good growth figures, I'd be disappointed," he said.

Last year Agrofair's turnover grew 57% to more than £4.5m. Bowes said broadening the appeal of Fairtrade could support such growth in the future. Only 4% of UK households buy Fairtrade at present but 25% are thought to be supportive.

The key was to communicate the benefits of Fairtrade much better to shoppers, he said.

"Consumers usually pay a premium because they believe the extra coppers are going to give a lift to poor, unidentified people in developing countries," said Bowes. "They understand the idea of wealth transfer but don't understand the social impact the Fairtrade premium has or the empowerment it gives people."

Bowes wants to bring more standard commercial strategies to Fairtrade. He said he would increase new product development with the help of growers and start promoting lines in supermarkets.

He wants retailers to boost volume sales by cutting their margins in promotions, allowing Agrofair to become more efficient.

"If doing a promotion doubles our weekly throughput of bananas to 2,000 boxes, it allows us to make efficiencies of scale," Bowes added.

New Agrofair lines will be announced later this year, he promised.