The Co-operative Group is planning a big push on Fairtrade wine for next year’s Fairtrade Fortnight, from February 24 to March 9.

The group is the biggest Fairtrade wine retailer in the world, and has been selling Fairtrade goods for 10 years.

Half of all Fairtrade wines in the UK are sold by the Co-op, accounting for nearly 30% of all Fairtrade wines worldwide.

Fairtrade buyer Ed Robinson told OLN: “With all the doom and gloom and pessimism in the economy of late, we haven’t seen that reflected in any way in Fairtrade. We have had 10 years of successive growth and sales continue to grow.”

Wine trading manager Simon Cairns said Fairtrade is key to the Co-op’s reputation as an ethical retailer.

“I hope customers would be able to pick us out as a co- operative just because of the presence of Fairtrade,” he said.

The group also supports the Fairtrade Foundation above and beyond minimum contributions, and last year donated £200,000 to its causes on top of contributions linked to the goods it sells.

Next year a school will open in La Riojana, where the Co-op sources its Fairtrade Malbec. The agricultural college will take in 315 children next year and 600 in 2015.

Eliza Ward, of the Fairtrade Foundation, said: “The Co-operative has an excellent relationship with the Fairtrade Foundation and has a particularly strategic partnership in terms of Fairtrade wine, getting involved in the various community projects and supporting the projects with its own voluntary additional funding. The Co-op was the first retailer to launch Fairtrade wine in the UK. It now offers 20 Fairtrade wines and is the largest retailer of Fairtrade wine in the world.”