As Fairtrade sales leap 80 per cent, Fairtrade Foundation deputy chairman Ian Bretman says getting involved could boost to retailers' top lines

Want to hear about a promotion that’s trying to drum up sales on the high street? Who’s feeling the chill wind of the credit crunch now and how deep are they slashing prices to get stock moving?

Well, actually, at a time when everyone’s looking for more change from their shopping, this campaign delivers on that promise in a very unusual way. Not by cutting prices, but by ensuring that farmers and workers in the world’s poorest countries earn enough for today and have extra for a better life tomorrow.

That’s the offer behind the Fairtrade mark, the independent consumer guarantee of a better deal for Third World producers - and it’s actually proving very popular with the British public. The Fairtrade Foundation, the charity behind the mark that controls its use on more than 3,000 food, drink, horticultural and textile products is using the start of this year’s Fairtrade Fortnight to announce an 80 per cent increase in sales in 2007, to a retail value of nearly£500 million.

Over the next two weeks, consumers will have an unprecedented range of opportunities to see, try and buy Fairtrade products in supermarkets, specialist food shops, convenience stores, catering venues and many other outlets big and small that are supporting this year’s campaign, with the strapline: “Change today, choose Fairtrade”.

One of the core messages in the campaign is how the small changes we can all make by buying Fairtrade add up to a big difference now that millions of people are doing it.

It’s the continual growth in consumer demand that has fuelled big shifts by business in the past year, such as Sainsbury and Waitrose switching their bananas to Fairtrade and the wide range of Fairtrade products in M&S.

And, in the past week alone, we’ve seen further moves by longstanding partners such as the Co-op, moving their entire hot beverage category to Fairtrade, as well as major new initiative such as Tate & Lyle committing their full retail sugar range to Fairtrade over the next year.

Fairtrade Fortnight 2008 runs from February 25 to March 9. If your store’s participating then thank you, enjoy it and tell us how it went so we can make it even bigger and better next year.

If your business isn’t yet involved with Fairtrade, then you have two choices. One is to get along to one of the thousands of events up and down the country where you can be inspired by producers from Africa, Asia and South America telling their stories of the difference Fairtrade makes in their communities.

The other is to check out what’s happening in the stores of your competitors that are running Fairtrade promotions and see the impact it has on their sales.

I’m pretty sure that either of these will spark your interest in being part of the changes that Fairtrade makes. And you don’t have to wait another year to start the ball rolling. Visit www.fairtrade.org.uk to find out what you can do now -there’s never a better time to change than today.

Ian Bretman, deputy director, Fairtrade Foundation