The Co-op has claimed an industry first by stocking an entirely Fairtrade South African wine range.
The move means it will now stock 45 South African wines made to Fairtrade standards. It offers 57 wines in total under the certification.
The convenience retailer is also investing £800,000 through donations and social premium (extra money that goes into a communal fund for workers and farmers) into a start-up winery called Fairroots in Olifants River to further cement its commitment to the South African wine industry, it said.
The funding will allow Fairroots to develop an education centre for environment and financial training, as well as supporting its vineyard operations.
The winery spans more than 34 hectares, with eight permanent workers plus additional seasonal producers. Co-op will eventually sell wine from here in its stores, with 206 people benefiting from its sales.
“At the Co-op we have been involved in the sale of Fairtrade wine right from the beginning and for us the last 17 years or so has been a journey towards forging closer relationships with our suppliers, providing better quality and value for our customers and – most importantly of all – doing everything we can to support the most important people in the chain: the vineyard workers and their families,” said Co-op Fairtrade wine buyer Edward Robinson.
”With this in mind, we are incredibly proud to be announcing that all our South African wines will now be made according to Fairtrade standards.
“The work does not end here, however. This year we are putting in place ambitious new projects in housing and education and will be working closely with one of our Fairtrade Trusts, who now own their own vineyard.
“With the extensive social benefits which Fairtrade brings, together with the excellence of the wines involved, surely now is the time to ask why anyone would not want to choose Fairtrade wine when buying from South Africa.”
Fairtrade Foundation CEO Mike Gidney said: “Let’s raise a glass to the Co-op in celebration of this landmark Fairtrade first for South African wine producers. Over the past year, Co-op’s support has enabled wineries in the region to stay afloat through the pandemic, and this commitment will drive so much more benefits to workers still.
“Over the past year, we have continued to see growth in the Fairtrade wine category and retailers providing consumers with more and more choice, and we hope this industry-first move by Co-op will inspire even further business to grow their Fairtrade wine offering.”