Co-op: reaps rewards from Fairtrade focus

The Co-op has put a real focus on the Fairtrade part of its wine range, and in October launched the UK's first Fairtrade wines from Argentina - four wines sourced from La Riojana, Argentina's largest co-operative.

The group now has 12 own-label Fairtrade wines from Argentina, Chile and South Africa, as well as two Thandi lines. Fairtrade wines are stocked in all the 3,000 shops in the Co-op estate, and sales have grown to more than £12 million a year.

The Fairtrade offering is merchandised as a block in stores, rather than by colour, country and grape like the rest of the wine range.

The Co-op also has the UK's only Fairtrade ale, Co-op Bumble Bee Honey Ale, which uses Fairtrade honey from Chile.

All its own-label products have a full ingredients list on the label, and it was the first retailer to include braille on its own-brand alcoholic drinks labels in 1999.

Finer wines have been expanded in the last year, and some 300 selected shops around the country now carry the Co-op's finer wine range. The group says the value of its BWS department has grown by 12 per cent, and it has increased its market share to 6.8 per cent.