Consumer awareness of the Fairtrade mark in the UK has hit an all-time high of 96%, a global report on attitudes towards Fairtrade has revealed.

The figure, up from 91% last year, remains the highest in the world, ahead of Ireland (91%), Switzerland (90%) and the Netherlands (86%). Global recognition among over 17,000 consumers in 24 countries surveyed for Fairtrade International was 57%.

In the UK, awareness has been boosted by the raft of big brands and retailers throwing their weight behind Fairtrade, including Sainsbury's, The Co-operative Group, Cadbury and Ben & Jerry's. Earlier this month, Mars announced Maltesers would go Fairtrade next year.

More than 80% of UK ­respondents in the survey said they looked to companies to help protect the ­environment and reduce poverty, while 76% said the Fairtrade mark was the best way to verify a product's claims in terms of safe products, fair play and safe working conditions.

"This survey proves consumers do care about the people and the communities at the other end of the supply chain," said Rob Cameron, CEO of Fairtrade International. "They want to be sure their everyday purchases reflect their values and they expect companies to reflect this need."

They also wanted business to back social and ­environmental claims through independent certification, added Caroline Holme, research director at GlobeScan, which conducted the survey. "Fairtrade's ever-increasing recognition power provides a strong ­vehicle for individuals to make this point through day-to-day purchases."

Worldwide sales of Fairtrade have grown 28% to 4.36bn in the past year, the survey found. Fairtrade sales more than tripled in the emerging Fairtrade markets of the Czech Republic (386%), South Africa (315%) and Australia and New Zealand (258%).

"We are taking up the challenge to grow Fairtrade still further so even more farmers and workers can have better opportunities," said Cameron.