Friday, 19 February 2010

Media Release: The Co-operative Southend 'teas' up for biggest ever fairtrade fortnight

The Co-operative Group is gearing up for its biggest ever Fairtrade Fortnight* following its acquisition of the Somerfield supermarket chain last year, which could boost Fairtrade sales by some £40m per annum.

The Co-operative has led the way on Fairtrade. At the time of the acquisition, Peter Marks, Group Chief Executive, pledged The Co-operative’s commitment to ethical trading would be extended to the Somerfield estate and now, for the first time, Somerfield stores will be championing Fairtrade, along with thousands of Co-operative stores across the UK.

In 2008, as part of its Food Ethical Policy, The Co-operative became the first retailer to convert its entire own-brand hot drinks category of tea, coffee and hot chocolate to Fairtrade. The Co-operative, now the fifth biggest food retailer, has taken this commitment further by introducing its Fairtrade hot drinks range into Somerfield stores, along with many other Fairtrade lines as part of the integration process.

Somerfield stores already converted to The Co-operative are stocking the retailer’s entire range of branded and own-brand products, including its extensive Fairtrade grocery range, which covers everything from chocolate to fruit and nuts, cereals, hot and cold drinks, cakes and a market-leading wine range.

The Co-operative’s latest move makes Fairtrade accessible to millions more shoppers, and will benefit hundreds of thousands of growers in some of the world’s poorest countries, including Malawi.

“The Big Swap” is the main theme for this year’s Fairtrade Fortnight, to encourage people to switch their usual products for ones carrying the FAIRTRADE Mark to help producers in developing countries. As an added incentive, there is up to 20% off selected Fairtrade products at Co-operative and Somerfield stores**, including the retailer’s iconic 99 Tea range, to encourage shoppers to switch their cuppa to Fairtrade.

The Co-operative’s long-term commitment to Fairtrade is demonstrated by its involvement in a unique project designed to empower small-scale tea producers in Kenya. The project, one of the largest Fairtrade projects in the world, aims to help 8,000 smallholders to form co-operatives, achieve Fairtrade certification and diversify into other products. It is anticipated that the growers will eventually be able to supply The Co-operative with tea for its 99 Tea blend.
Additionally, in 2010, The Co-operative will spend an additional £500,000 on a number of development projects offering benefits even beyond the existing Fairtrade commitments.
Peter Marks said: “The Co-operative has led the way on Fairtrade, having championed the FAIRTRADE Mark since its inception, and our pioneering development work has helped the UK become one of the largest Fairtrade markets in the world.

“We are continuing this commitment by extending our extensive Fairtrade range to the Somerfield estate, and we will continue to add more Fairtrade lines to our entire 3, 000 store network, as well as helping to develop more Fairtrade products and market opportunities for growers in developing countries.”

Harriet Lamb, Executive Director of the Fairtrade Foundation, said: “The Co-operative and their customers have given invaluable support to Fairtrade over the years, and their commitment to swap all their own-brand hot beverages, as well as other lines, in Somerfield stores to Fairtrade is great news for growers, workers and their communities around the world.”

The Co-operative Food & Membership with join with Southend's Fairtrade Borough Campaign Volunteers in Southend High Street on Saturday 27th February at the Farmers Market. With Fairtrade items on sales, sampling and a free Co-operative voucher which can be taken and redeemed in Co-operative stores during March. With £3 of when you spend £7 of Fairtrade items. Also maybe a live Fairtrade Tea Dance.


Notes to Editors
* Fairtrade Fortnight, which this year runs from 22 February – 7 March inclusive, is the annual nationwide campaign led by the Fairtrade Foundation to promote awareness of Fairtrade and to encourage people to buy products carrying the FAIRTRADE Mark. As part of “The Big Swap”, the Foundation is hoping to get people in Britain to make one million and one swaps over the two-week period.
** The Co-operative and Somerfield are offering up to 20% off selected Fairtrade products from now until 9 March inclusive.

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