Co-op moves to 100% Fairtrade South African wine in industry first commitment

Co-op has announced, in an industry first, that all of the South African wine stocked in its range, across branded and own-label, is Fairtrade.

Already the world’s largest retailer for Fairtrade wine, Co-op stocks 57 Fairtrade wines, 45 being from South Africa, and latest figures show that the convenience retailer sold 14.5 million litres of Fairtrade wine in 2020.

To further cement its commitment to the South African wine industry, which was hit hard by the impact of Covid-19, Co-op has invested through donations and social premium into a start-up winery, Fairroots, in Olifants River South Africa.

Supporting both the vineyard’s operations and its training programmes, the funding allows Fairroots to develop an education centre, in addition to environment and financial training. The winery spans over 34 hectares, with eight permanent workers, plus additional seasonal producers and Co-op will eventually sell wine from here in its stores, with 206 people benefitting from its sales.

At the Co-op we have been involved in the sale of Fairtrade wine right from the beginning and for us the last seventeen years or so has been a journey towards forging closer relationship with our suppliers, providing better quality and value for our customers and – most importantly of all – doing everything we can to support the most important people in the chain: the vineyard workers and their families. With this in mind we are incredibly proud to be announcing that all our South African wines will now be made according to Fairtrade standards.

‘The work does not end here, however! This year we are putting in place ambitious new projects in housing and education and will be working closely with one of our Fairtrade Trusts, who now own their own vineyard. With the extensive social benefits which Fairtrade brings, together with the excellence of the wines involved, surely now is the time to ask why anyone would not want to choose Fairtrade wine when buying from South Africa.

Edward Robinson, Co-op Fairtrade wine buyer

Co-op has had many Fairtrade firsts, as the world’s largest retailer of Fairtrade wine. It has established itself as the UK’s largest convenience seller of Fairtrade products and has championed Fairtrade for 25 years. Through the Fairtrade guidelines, producers are guaranteed a fair price for their harvest as well as fair wages, enabling growers to take control of their futures. It’s the only certification that guarantees a Minimum Price and additional Premium for producers to spend on products of their choice, as well as works directly with the producers to strengthen environmental and climate protection, benefiting individual communities as well as supporting climate action all around the world.

Let’s raise a glass to the Co-op in celebration of this landmark Fairtrade first for South African wine producers. Over the past year, Co-op’s support has literally enabled wineries in the region to stay afloat through the pandemic, and this commitment will drive so much more benefits to workers still. Over the past year, we have continued to see growth in the Fairtrade wine category and retailers providing consumers with more and more choice, and we hope this industry-first move by Co-op will inspire even further business to grow their Fairtrade wine offering.

Mike Gidney, CEO at The Fairtrade Foundation

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