The government has launched a £2m fund to encourage retailers to increase the market for sustainably produced food from Africa.

Launching the initiative on Wednesday, Gareth Thomas, minister for trade and international development, said the Food Retail Industry Challenge Fund was designed to fund projects that would help African producers develop innovative business ideas and add value to their produce.

Farmers in Africa were already coming up with ideas for new products, such as low carbon pineapples, he told the Co-op's Ethical Shopping conference.

"We want to see new products in our shops so that many more African farmers have fairer and more profitable trading relationships with UK shoppers," he said.

Thomas also urged more British companies to join the Ethical Trading Initiative.