Fairtrade fornight - the big swap

Up and down the country retailers are being urged to get involved in this year's Fairtrade Fortnight (22 February-7 March), which promises to be the biggest yet. The aim is to get everyone to realise the difference that Fairtrade makes to the lives of farmers from around the world who produce so much of the food we take for granted.

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The fact is that a third of humanity exists on less than two dollars a day. We can all do our bit to help by making some small changes to our shopping habits. That's why this year's theme is The Big Swap. Shoppers will be encouraged to swap their regular basket items like coffee, chocolate, bananas and tea for Fairtrade goods.

The organisers are hoping that they can persuade people to change their regular brand of tea for a Fairtrade alternative. By swapping your regular cuppa, for a Fairtrade cuppa, you could be helping millions of impoverished tea producers to a better deal. Tea lovers in the UK knock back 165 million cups a day but only 10 per cent of those are Fairtrade.

At the moment there is a problem with awareness. Around 72 per cent of us recognise the Fairtrade mark, an increase on the 68 per cent last year but still not where the organisers would like it to be. This year they are hoping more companies, traders and communities will get involved to expand awareness.

The value of UK Fairtrade sales has grown more than tenfold since 2001, reaching nearly £700 million in 2008 and Fairtrade now helps more than 7.5 million people – farmers, workers and their families – to have more security and control over their lives.

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