Yesterday (Monday March 24th) marked the beginning of Fairtrade Fortnight and the Fairtrade Foundation's Make Bananas Fair campaign, both of which aim to increase awareness of issues faced by those who produce food in other countries.
To coincide with this launch, the organisation released its annual figures, which show that an increasing number of UK consumers are choosing to purchase Fairtrade products, as it reported sales of £1.78 billion for 2013. This was a significant increase on 2012, when it made £1.53 billion.
Britain is a world leader with regard to Fairtrade products, selling more than 4,500 certified goods in its shops.
Fairtrade ensures that farmers get a fair price for their products, rather than supermarkets getting a majority share. This enables workers in developing countries to be able to pay for adequate healthcare and education.
During 2013, sales increased for a number of products, with 52 per cent more Fairtrade chocolate bars being sold this year than last. Cocoa sales grew by five per cent, sugar by 25 per cent and banana sales were up by four per cent.
The most significant increase was for fresh vegetables, with 316 per cent growth being experienced among these products.
According to these figures, the UK consumed more than two billion cups of coffee, over three billion mugs of tea and 1.42 billion bananas supported by the scheme.
Michael Gidney, chief executive of the Fairtrade Foundation, said: "It's 20 years since the very first Fairtrade products - Green & Black's Maya Gold, Cafedirect coffee and Clipper tea - appeared in the UK and the appetite for Fairtrade is still growing, despite challenging economic conditions."
The organisation's current campaign - Make Bananas Fair - indicates that welfare issues remain at the heart of the Fairtrade Foundation's interests despite sales success. It is hoped that enough signatures will be collected for a petition to send to business secretary Vince Cable to push for improved conditions for banana farmers.
This will remain a priority throughout 2014, while the fair production of cotton will also be a primary focus.