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Is Business Rising to the challenge of Fair trade

Worldaware Business Awards Recognises Major Supermarket Chain.

'Before you've finished your breakfast, you will have depended on half the world.' Forty years after Dr Martin Luther King's wake-up call the message of global interdependence is more important than ever. However, half the world may not have benefited commercially from having provided the West with its breakfast - unless the ingredients were bought from a Fairtrade supplier.

This year the Worldaware Business Awards have selected the Co-op retail chain as the winner of the Shell Award for Sustainable Development. These awards, now in their 14th year, recognise the contribution that commercial activity can make to the sustainable growth of developing countries throughout the world.

Sales of Fairtrade products have experienced a 40% growth in the UK in the past year (Datamonitor 2002). These products guarantee growers and producers fair wages and good working conditions.

The Co-op Fairtrade Campaign recognises this growth and brings Fairtrade into the mainstream through a comprehensive development strategy aimed at tackling the two main reasons that fair trade has remained a niche market - the lack of product range and availability, and low consumer awareness. A selection of Fairtrade products has gone in to all the Co-op's stores nationwide, no matter how small, thus ensuring the availability of these products for the first time in all high street and community areas. The range of products available includes bananas, coffee, wine, pineapples and the Co-op has recently announced that it is switching its entire range of own-brand chocolate bars to fair trade in 2,400 stores nationwide. To support this and the further development of fair trade, the Co-op aims to increase consumer awareness through an ongoing marketing campaign including TV and press advertisements.

Andrew Fraser, President of Worldaware, and a member of the judging panel said,

"The Co-op should be applauded for the commitment it has demonstrated by its efforts to 'mainstream' Fairtrade. Although many have started to stock Fairtrade products, there are few that have been willing to take the commercially brave step that the Co-op have done, and put the marketing and advertising support behind it.

"This is another strong example of the critical role that businesses are starting to take in the effort to raise awareness amongst consumers of the importance and benefit of 'Fairtrade' products and their role in supporting economic development. Worldaware is keen to recognise more businesses who are taking such initiatives and I hope that many more companies will enter the 2003 awards.

The panel of judges commenting on the initiative said:

The Co-operative stores provide an excellent example of fostering development and societal contribution alongside a strong business model. The Co-operative model depends on goodwill and consumers' commitment to guarantee a floor price above the market norm. The economic and social impacts for the growers are clear, allowing them the crucial stability to plan over the longer term, and improving the lives of those who are involved in a truly sustainable way. It is a model to follow.

Terry Hudghton, Head of Brand and Corporate Marketing, who received the award on behalf of the Co-op commented,

"We're delighted to receive this award in recognition of our commitment to Fairtrade, which has helped to boost sales dramatically, whilst heightening general awareness of the plight of many growers and producers in the developing world."

For further information:
The Co-operative Group PR department: Michelle Vernon on 0161 827 5290
Worldaware: Helen Triggs 020 7603 8574 Sally Canty 02380 283255

Note to editors

Worldaware is a UK charity which aims to promote the widest understanding of global development issues, their importance and the interdependence of today's world.

The Worldaware Awards recognise both large and small businesses and institutions. They were established 14 years ago and have become a sought after source of recognition by companies, organisations and institutions involved in sustainable commercial and educational projects.