Shoppers are increasingly on the lookout for fairly-traded products – but the industry and suppliers must do more to help convenience stores take advantage, retailers have told RN. 

The comments come at the start of Fairtrade Fortnight, which runs until 11 March and promotes sales of ethically-produced food, drink and household products across the UK. 

Mehmet Guzel, of Simply Fresh Bethnal Green, said suppliers and Fairtrade businesses must engage more with convenience store owners to maximise the impact of promotional events.

Fairtrade Fortnight is a good fit for us – we have quite a young, ethically-minded clientele. But I didn’t even know it was happening. Now I do, I’ll do something in-store to mark it,” he said. 

However, Mr Guzel highlighted the limitations in suppliers’ ranges. “We have three main suppliers and find it easy to source Fairtrade cocoa, chocolate, coffee and tea. But for everything else the range isn’t there at the moment,” he said. 

Richard Cox, of Nisa Local in Southminster, told RN: “We occasionally stock Fairtrade products, but we’re in a village and customers want their essentials as cheaply as possible. I do think they will start to accept Fairtrade products, though. 

“The price of food has been too low for too long, and Fairtrade prices represent what it actually costs to produce and sell these products.”

Charity Fairtrade Foundation, which runs the event, claims shopper interest in ethical products is rising sharply, with 80% of people now saying they care about Fairtrade, up from 54% this time last year. 

A spokesperson said core convenience store products such as tea and coffee can sell particularly well under Fairtrade branding.  

“We recommend convenience stores offer discounts and deals on Fairtrade stock during the promotion fortnight. Positioning can really help – either by creating a dedicated stand at the entrance or by highlighting products on the shelves.”