Edward Robinson our Fairtrade Wine Buyer explains Fairtrade past, present and future at The Co-op
“Our involvement in fairly traded wine began with the Traidcraft organisation in the year 2000 and moved to the Fairtrade standard in 2004 when we listed the first-ever Fairtrade certified wine, a Carmenere from Chile. Since then, our Fairtrade wine range has expanded to twenty-five products from all three major Fairtrade wine-producing countries and we are recognised as the largest retailer of Fairtrade wines not just in the UK (our share of the market is 66%*) but also the world. In 2015 we reached the milestone of selling our 50 millionth bottle** of Fairtrade wine, an accomplishment which seemed very far off when we started out.
Key to this success has been forging close relationships with the producers involved, working together not just on blending the wines themselves but on the social projects which the sales of the wines support – this is no ‘off the peg’ venture for us.
To date we have been heavily involved in building a secondary school, a water treatment facility for a village and social projects such as crèches, pre-schools and a community centre, all of which benefit thousands of people across the three countries from where we source our Fairtrade wine.
All of this would be pointless, however, without the buy-in of our customers – and to this end a huge amount of work goes into ensuring that the wines are the best possible quality. We are hugely proud of the fact that they win so many awards, which is reflective of the skills of our producers on the ground.
The future of Fairtrade wine looks bright; the overall market is in growth and we are working with suppliers of branded wines to convert their products to Fairtrade standards. Furthermore, we have some brand new projects (a medical clinic and a housing project to name but two) in the pipeline with our own-brand partners to ensure that the good work continues.”
* Fairtrade Foundation
** 75cl equivalent