This year, St Valentine’s Day marked the tenth anniversary of Co-op launching its first ever range of Fairtrade roses. Since 2007, the ethical retailer has gone on to buy 100 million stems of Fairtrade flowers, delivering almost £1.5 million in Fairtrade Premium to support flower farm communities in Kenya, Tanzania and Ethiopia.
For over 15,000 people who handpick Co-op’s Fairtrade roses and ‘Out of Africa’ flower bouquet, this long-term relationship has provided decent employment, workplace benefits and environmental protection.
Brad Hill, Co-op’s Fairtrade manager, said: “We are delighted to celebrate our ten year anniversary with Fairtrade flowers this Valentine’s Day. Over the last decade, our customers have fallen head over heels for the high-quality, beautiful blooms that African flower farms grow for our enjoyment and on their behalf I feel very proud that Co-op has helped to pump such a significant amount of funding back into the heart of these communities. Roses are a powerful symbol of love and as February 14th comes round again, we know that our customers will be just as passionate about buying Fairtrade flowers that improve the lives of those who produce them.”
Across the Fairtrade system, around 50,000 people work in Fairtrade flower farms and 55% of workers are female.The majority of Co-op’s Fairtrade flowers come from Kenya, which is a leading exporter of flowers to Europe, and as an industry it employs 500,000 people. Jen Shepherd, Flowers Supply Chain Manager, said: “In the 10 years since Co-op launched its first bunches of red roses, thousands of workers have benefitted. With Fairtrade, when shoppers buy Fairtrade flowers they can be sure that workers receive good working conditions, and in addition, they benefit from social investments in their communities.
“Co-op and their customers have been champions of Fairtrade flower workers for a decade, and we thank them for this support. UK shoppers care deeply about this and each year we’ve seen increasing sales of Fairtrade flowers. And at a time of year when we buy roses to show our loved ones how much we care, we hope even more people will say it with Fairtrade.”
Flamingo Horticulture is one of Co-op’s Kenyan rose suppliers, which, alongside six other Fairtrade flower farms, pooled funding generated by the Fairtrade Premium in to a local clinic to address the lack of maternity services in their area. Since the clinic opened in 2013, it has delivered a life-saving service for the community and more than 21,000 babies have been born safely. Jen Shepherd, Fairtrade Flowers Supply Manager, said: “Shoppers’ support for Fairtrade has literally turned stalks into storks!” The maternity clinic’s manager, James Wattuman, added: ““Before the hospital was built, women had to give birth at home and they stood little chance of surviving childbirth. The impact that the hospital has had on the community isn’t just seen with the eyes. We feel it in our hearts. Every time a woman leaves the hospital with their new bundle of joy – I feel like life is giving me a high-five.” To celebrate these new mums who are now able to get the care they need, this year the Co-op will be stocking a Fairtrade Mother’s Day Mixed Rose line in time for Mother’s Day.
Over the past 10 years sales of Fairtrade flowers have been growing, with a 9% increase in volumes between 2014 and 2015 alone. In 2015, more than £5.7million worth of Premium was provided to Fairtrade flower farms.