The Co-op has continued to lead the grocery market for fair trade since it launched its own-label Fair Trade chocolate bar in 2000

The first own-label fair trade product hit the UK market when The Co-op launched its Fair Trade chocolate bar in 2000. Since then, The Co-op has led the grocery market for fair trade by investing in marketing, advertising and consumer education as well as more recently making a video to get the message out to schoolchildren.
Another major development by the retailer in the past year has been to double the number of own-label products.
Now 90% of the 100 lines that carry the Fair Trade mark are own label.
“Fairtrade is only 11 years old and people’s awareness of the mark is now at 39%,” says The Co-op’s marketing development manager, Brad Hill. “But the challenge is to get more of these people on board by making the products more visible. There is still a lot of room to grow.”
The Co-op took a big risk in 2002 when it changed all its own-label chocolate to Fair Trade. However, the move has paid off as sales of its Fair Trade chocolate are currently growing at 30%. The Co-op’s own-label coffee range was next to become fully Fair Trade in 2003.
A personalised Fair Trade village story accompanies all of The Co-op own-label packaging. And as well as increasing the number of products, it is focusing on maximising distribution of them.
Tesco has also grown and improved its Fairtrade product range, according to Fairtrade Foundation executive director Harriet Lamb.
She adds that all the big multiples, as well as convenience store group Musgrave Budgens-
Londis, are getting more involved. And she is delighted at Asda’s progress. In March it launched an improved own-label range that includes tea bags, coffee, honey, pineapple, mango and grapes. The range will be extended to 16 products by the end of the year to include more beverages.
One of the most exciting Fairtrade opportunities to emerge recently has been the development of composite products, which must contain at least 20% Fairtrade ingredients, such as cakes, muesli, fresh fruit salads, ice cream and biscuits, says The Day Chocolate Company’s managing director Sophi Tranchell.
The company began as a branded manufacturer with Devine chocolate, but added The Co-op own-label account when it became the sole own-label chocolate supplier in 2002. Through this partnership, the company now supplies chocolate chips for inclusion in many composite products. As the number of existing Fairtrade products continues to expand, the possibilities for composites are limitless, says Tranchell.