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LONDON -- In what's being billed as the "biggest fair trade move in the world," Sainsbury's said yesterday it will be the first UK retailer to convert its entire banana range to 100 percent fair trade. The retail price of bananas will remain unchanged, the retailer said.
"This move to 100 percent fair trade leads the world, and really sets the standard for global fair trade sourcing," said Sainsbury's chief executive Justin King in a statement. "We will continue to give our customers great choice, at the same price, but from now on every customer will know that buying bananas from Sainsbury's is helping to make a difference to a developing country."
Sainsbury's, which sells a thousand bananas per minute, estimates that its share of the entire fair trade market will now be larger than all the other major supermarkets in the UK combined.
The retailer already bills itself as the U.K.'s leading fair trade retailer, and currently accounts for the largest market share of bananas with the fair trade mark.
The conversion to 100 percent fair trade bananas will create a "social premium" of around $7.8 million in 2007, which will be returned to the growers and their communities, the company said.
Sainsbury's has been working for several months with the Fairtrade Foundation and the growers, some of whom Sainsbury's has been trading with for the last 50 years.
"This is the most momentous decision for the banana market," said Harriet Lamb, executive director of the Fairtrade Foundation, in a statement. "Sainsbury's sells half a billion bananas a year, therefore the impact on the banana farmers and their communities will be hugely significant."
Sainsbury's was the first major supermarket to offer fair trade bananas in January 2000 and recently doubled its fair trade offer by converting its "Kids" range of bananas to fair trade.
In other related news, Sainsbury's is launching a new wine that it claims is good for the heart. The new wine, which is called "Red Heart" and has high levels of antioxidants, is made from Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot grapes. Its estimated retail price is around $9.80 (4.99 British pounds).