Other retailers have been urged to follow the Co-op’s example after it made a commitment to to use only Fairtrade cocoa in its products, the first UK retailer to do so.
The switch to 100 per cent Fairtrade cocoa will affect over of Co-op’s 200 products – from the sprinkles on its doughnuts to chocolate tortes – and will be completed by the end of May.
The grocer is already a supporter of Fairtrade, sourcing products from over 20 countries and supporting around 250,000 farmers.
The Co-op said the move was worth over £7 million and will generate £450,000 in the Fairtrade premium every year.
“The UK is the world’s biggest Fairtrade market and the world’s fourth biggest consumer of chocolate, but our manufacturers and retailers still only source a tiny amount on Fairtrade terms,” Co-op’s Fairtrade strategy manager Brad Hill said.
“When we consider that demand for cocoa is set to rise by 30 per cent over the next three years alone, it’s imperative that we keep moving forward with sustainability initiatives in order to shape this industry.
“We must help to improve the lives of farming communities who are still suffering a raw deal.”
Fairtrade Foundation chief executive Michael Gidney welcomed the Co-op’s plans.
“Chocolate is often seen as an indulgence in the West, but for the millions of small-scale farmers who grow cocoa it can mean the difference between poverty and prosperity,” he said.
“We are very pleased to build on our long-standing partnership with the Co-op. As a leading retailer with strong ethical values, the Co-Op’s commitment to Fairtrade is exemplary.
“After 20 years the Co-op remains one of Fairtrade’s most important allies in helping farmers get a better deal and this move again sets the standard for other retailers to follow.”