Co-op members back ethical trade

CO-OP members in the East of England were among 100,000 people who took part in the world's largest consumer poll on ethics.Now the Co-op has today announced it is banning the sale of eggs from caged hens from all its stores immediately and converting its own-brand hot drinks range to Fairtrade.

CO-OP members in the East of England were among 100,000 people who took part in the world's largest consumer poll on ethics.

Now the Co-op has today announced it is banning the sale of eggs from caged hens from all its stores immediately and converting its own-brand hot drinks range to Fairtrade.

It is also reducing the weight of its wine packaging and adding a further 66 pesticides to its prohibited list.

The moves follow a six-month consultation with 12 independent consumer co-operatives on the development of an ethical policy.

Three categories emerged as members' greatest concerns - ethical trading, animal welfare and the environment.

The Co-op has become the first British retailer to convert its own-brand hot drinks category - worth more than £16 million annually - to Fairtrade.

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The move will benefit producers in poor countries in East Africa and India.

As well as receiving a guaranteed price for their crop, they will get a Fairtrade premium to invest in projects of their choice, such as water supplies, educational equipment and medical facilities.

The Co-op is also announcing that the glass used for bottles for 26 different wines - amounting to 8.2 million bottles per year - will be dramatically reduced, saving a total of 450 tonnes of glass per year.

Richard Samson, East of England Co-op chief executive, said: “Our members have endorsed our ethical approach to business and provided us with some real challenges going forward.”