Co-op Pledge £800k for Start-up Fairtrade Winery in South Africa

National supermarket chain Co-op has claimed an industry-first by announcing they will sell an entirely Fairtrade South African wine range.

The move means that Co-op will now carry forty-five South African wines made to Fairtrade standards across its stores, offering a total of fifty-seven under the certification.

The grocery retailer has also pledged to fund £800,000 towards a start-up wine production company, named Fairroots, in Olifants River, to further underpin its commitment to the South African wine industry.

The funding will allow Fairroots to develop an education centre for environmental and financial training, as well as support its vineyard operations.

Fairroots employs eight permanent staff and additional seasonal workers in a thirty-four-hectare site, and the aim is for Co-op to stock wines from the winery in its UK stores.

Co-op Fairtrade wine buyer Edward Robinson commented: “At the Co-op, we have been involved in the sale of Fairtrade wine right from the beginning and for us, the last 17 years or so has been a journey towards forging closer relationships 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.”

Fairtrade Foundation CEO Mike Gidney added: “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 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.”