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THE annual fairtrade forthnight has been launched under the theme - Change Today, Choose Fairtrade The Fairtrade Foundation's message for Fairtrade Fortnight 2007 is that, whilst sales of Fairtrade products continue to soar, change is still not happening quickly enough for millions of the world's poorest farmers who remain trapped in 'trade poverty'. The Foundation believes that 2007 will be the year when people define themselves by their attitude to fairness in society. We expect a surge of support for real values, such as those enshrined in Fairtrade, which will create a momentum allowing significant change to become possible.

Individuals, community groups, schools, universities and faith networks are being urged to scale up their own activity as part of the Fairtrade Foundation's vision of an even bigger movement for positive change on trade.

This is a challenge to consumers to see the regular purchasing of Fairtrade products as a long-term contribution to tackling poverty - so that people in developing countries can also bring about the changes they want and need in their lives and communities. The Foundation's message is also a challenge to governments, business and public institutions to implement their own changes in sourcing and procurement, taking the lead from ordinary consumers who have driven Fairtrade to where it is today with one in two people now saying they recognise the FAIRTRADE Mark.

As Harriet Lamb, Executive Director of the Fairtrade Foundation, in her remarks said: "The road signs for tomorrow's Fairtrade world are out there. Up and down the country, the public are knocking on doors from the town hall to the local supermarket asking for more engagement with Fairtrade, and this is driving companies, large and small, to respond. And all of this means more farmers are able to sell more of their produce under Fairtrade terms, strengthening their organisations, building long-term relationships and increasing benefits to their communities.

"But the road to our destination is still long and hard," Harriet added. "Fairtrade is beginning to move from being an 'optional extra' to a 'must-do'. Way too many companies have yet to wake up to the public's changing expectations.

We need people to shout even louder, and we need companies to respond with genuine engagement. Otherwise millions of farmers will remain consigned to poverty. Fairtrade must become an everyday part of the way this nation thinks and shops.

"Fairtrade has achieved a paradigm shift that has popularised the link with the farmers who grow the food on our tables that puts people - the producers and consumers - at the centre of trade, and is redefining what is acceptable behaviour for all of us, from consumers to business to governments.

Fairtrade is a powerful idea showing that you can and should manage markets for social and development goals. It's a powerful idea and it is rapidly triggering changes. The challenge now is to capitalize on the current momentum and take Fairtrade to the next level."

Fairtrade has proved a lifeline for banana growers, transforming their fortunes and enabling them to invest in social and educational community projects. The recent groundbreaking announcement by Sainsbury's to switch 100% of their bananas to Fairtrade has provided further grounds for hope for producers in the Caribbean and Latin America. Justin King, CEO of Sainsbury's, has just returned from St Lucia where he discussed these plans with farmers themselves.

Harriet announced in her speech that sales of Fairtrade certified products reached an estimated retail value of £290m in 2006, an increase of 46% over the past year, and in 2007 sales are already running at an annual rate of at least £300m. Meanwhile the actual volumes of products, the benchmark for defining the real benefit returned to producers, rose by over 60%. Coffee sales (retail and catering) have increased by 39%, tea (retail and catering) by 50% and bananas by 39%. The variety of Fairtrade products has also shot up. With more than 2,500 retail and catering products now available from more than 260 different companies, it is easier than ever to Change Today. Choose Fairtrade.

Some of the other 'changes' that have gathered pace in the past twelve months with 250 towns and communities that have met goals for Fairtrade status, along with 3,100 Fairtrade Churches, over 30 Fairtrade Synagogues and nearly 50 Fairtrade Universities. Interest is now growing amongst mosques and Hindu temples. The growing appetite for Fairtrade and consumer demand for Fairtrade certified products has led to an explosion of company interest in Fairtrade. As well as Sainsbury's switch to 100 percent Fairtrade bananas, significant developments include Next and Debenhams launching their first clothes made with Fairtrade certified cotton, whilst Marks & Spencer is increasing its range to provide an 'outfit for all the family' and has converted all of their whole fresh pineapples to 100% Fairtrade. As well as promoting Fairtrade Fortnight with national TV advertising, the Co-op will launch Fairtrade cotton shopping bags.

Boots are launching a range of babywear from Hug called Little Green Radicals and TK Maxx are selling this year's Comic Relief T shirts which are made of Fairtrade Certified Cotton. Monsoon are launching a new range of T shirts using Fairtrade Certified Cotton in Spring. Top Shop are launching a range of clothing with the fair trade pioneer company People Tree called 'People Tree for Top Shop'.

Tesco is extending its range of Fairtrade nuts to five items ranging from brazil nuts to a peanut, cashew and mango mix, Thresher's is launching a range of Fairtrade wines, and Waitrose is switching its banana range to 100% Fairtrade and introducing a range of Fairtrade roses. Expanded ranges of fresh produce will be the focus of in-store promotions in Morrison's and Asda. Meanwhile three long-standing Fairtrade pioneers - Traidcraft, Cafédirect and Divine Chocolate - have all marked the start of 2007 with eyecatching new packaging designs.

Cafédirect's revamped range now includes 'Special Selection' and single origin coffees. AMT Coffee, which was the first national coffee company to go 100% Fairtrade, will be promoting the film BLACK GOLD in their coffee bars, giving out postcards and running a '50% off coffee' offer when customers present their cinema tickets. This criticallyacclaimed film, which features Ethiopian Fairtrade producer Tadesse Meskela and has sent shock-waves through the global coffee industry, is being released in cinemas at the beginning of June.social projects or business development programmes.

Typically, farmers' groups decide to use the premium on education, healthcare and clean water supplies, or the repair of roads and bridges, and to strengthen their businesses, improve the quality of their crop or convert to organic production.

Thousands of events will take place around the country to promote Fairtrade Fortnight.



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