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Are Tesco and Asda stocking fewer Fairtrade products than their competitors?

By Chris Elliott

As Fairtrade Fortnight 2015 comes to a close (23 February – 8 March), sales figures released by the Fairtrade Foundation show that both the volume of food sales and the retail value of Fairtrade sales were impacted by the challenges affecting the mainstream grocery sector. The estimated retail value of sales of Fairtrade products was £1.67 billion in 2014, down 3.7 percent year-on-year.

Some Fairtrade products have performed well despite the current economic climate. Sales of bananas, which were the focus of the Fairtrade Foundation’s Make Bananas Fair campaign, grew 3.0 percent by volume, in part due to Tesco relisting a product line early in the year.

Sales of coffee, the focus of Fairtrade’s Great British Fairness Debate campaign, increased 2.0 percent by volume, with Fairtrade switches by Tesco, Waitrose and Wild Bean Café, plus innovations such as Fairtrade coffee pods from brands including Cafédirect and Marks & Spencer, playing their part. Volumes of Fairtrade tea and Fairtrade cocoa sales fell slightly, by 1.0 percent and 2.0 percent respectively.


According to the Fairtrade Foundation, bananas are the UK’s favourite fruit with over five billion bananas sold every year. The Foundation also claims that the retail price of bananas has halved over the past ten years while production costs have doubled and because of this banana farmers are now worse off than ever.

The Fairtrade Foundation has accused Asda and Tesco, the two biggest sellers of bananas, of not selling enough Fairtrade varieties of the fruit and also claiming that the retailers only source 10 percent of their bananas on Fairtrade terms.

Conversely, Sainsbury’s state on its website that it is the largest retailer of Fairtrade products in the world, with £280 million in Fairtrade sales. It also claims that it sells “650 million Fairtrade bananas a year – more than all of the other major supermarkets put together”, According to its website, in 2007, Waitrose became the first retailer to sell only Fairtrade bananas.

fairtrade as featured on Sainsbury's and Waitrose websites

Analysis of each of the largest UK grocery retailers’ banana range shows that Asda, Morrisons and Tesco all stock more non-Fairtrade bananas than Fairtrade certified products. Whereas the banana range in Sainsbury’s and Waitrose is 100 percent Fairtrade certified and Ocado only stock one non-Fairtrade banana.

Number of Fairtrade banana SKUs

The Fairtrade Foundation go on to state that “More than eight in ten shoppers (including 85 percent of Asda shoppers and 84 percent of Tesco shoppers) say they would pay more for their bananas if the farmers and workers who produced them benefit as a result”.

However, current supermarket pricing shows that the shopper need not spend more as the Fairtrade loose bananas from Sainsbury’s and Waitrose are the same price per kilogram as the Tesco, Asda and Morrisons non-Fairtrade products. Ocado do not list loose bananas on its website.

Fairtrade bananas

The Fairtrade Foundation also certifies chocolate, coffee and tea products to ensure that farmers are receiving a fair price for their crop and investment in their local communities.

Brand View has reviewed the own label product ranges for chocolate bars, coffee and tea found in Asda, Morrisons, Ocado, Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Waitrose. We have divided each retailers’ product range into Fairtrade and non-Fairtrade products.


Asda (24.1 percent) and Tesco (17.8 percent) have the lowest proportion of their product ranges as Fairtrade certified. Between 44.4 and 49 percent, Morrisons, Ocado and Waitrose all have a similar proportion of Fairtrade coffee offerings. At 64.7 percent, Sainsbury’s offer the greatest number of Fairtrade coffee products.

Percentage of Fairtrade own label coffee products


Waitrose has 80 percent of its tea products Fairtrade certified; five percent more than the nearest competitor Sainsbury’s. Asda (2.6 percent) and Tesco (9.3 percent) have the lowest proportion of Fairtrade products.

Percentage of Fairtrade own label products

Chocolate bars

Sainsbury’s again has the greatest proportion of Fairtrade products in the category with 57.9 percent certified. Tesco do not list any own label Fairtrade chocolate bars on its website. Ocado and Waitrose follow Sainsbury’s with 31.3 and 26.3 percent respectively.

Percentage of Fairtrade own label chocolate bar products

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