The Co-op has announced it is to become the first supermarket in the UK to stock a Fairtrade wine from Lebanon.

The retailer is introducing Coteaux les Cedres, the first wine in Lebanon and the Middle East to have both Fairtrade and Organic certifications.

The wine will be launched in UK stores this month, and the stock from the first order alone from The Co-op is funding a new large fresh water tank, which supports a project helping to tackle the water shortages faced by Lebanese communities.

Edward Robinson, Fairtrade Wine Buyer, said: “As a pioneer of Fairtrade, we are thrilled to add this wonderful wine to our Fairtrade range, broadening our ethical wine offering and playing a role in helping growers in Lebanon. It is humbling to see the work going on at the Heliopolis co-operative and we are grateful to our members and customers for their constant support for these wines at The Co-op and the projects which they benefit.”

The Co-operative Coteaux Heliopolis was set up on the back of the destruction of illegal cannabis plantations, leaving farmers out of pocket and without a livelihood. A French department stepped in and assisted the local farmers in replacing poppy and cannabis with vines of Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Tempranillo and Caladoc, with the Co-operative now housing 250 farmers, nurturing circa 240ha.

Joe Abi Harb, operations manager of Fairtrade Lebanon, said: “We successfully overcame a huge challenge by helping Lebanese famers in the Beqaa region to replace cannabis crop with viniculture, and thus improved the lives of 250 farmers from 11 villages by increasing their income through the cultivation of grapes. The cooperative has been offered a viable economic model through Fair Trade principles and channels. The commercialisation of the total quantity of grapes has enabled an increased income for farmers.”

Sarah Singer, wine supply chain manager at the Fairtrade Foundation, said: “It is fantastic to see the first Fairtrade Lebanese wine on sale in the UK. Thanks to the sale of this wine producers and workers in Lebanon will benefit from a better price as well as the additional Fairtrade Premium.

“The Fairtrade wine market in the UK continues to grow year-on-year and the ongoing support of retailers like the Co-op is vital to continuing this growth.”

Harb added: “We are delighted that Co-op has supported our mission and that Coteaux les Cedres is now available on their shelves for £11.99.”