SALES of fairtrade products in the UK rose by 14% last year to an estimated £1.78 billion, new figures have shown.

The Fairtrade Foundation published the details at the start of Fairtrade Fortnight, the annual event marking the huge number of products sold under the fairtrade label. Thousands of events will be held across the UK.

Michael Gidney, chief executive of the Fairtrade Foundation, said: "It's 20 years since the very first fairtrade products - Green & Black's Maya Gold, Cafedirect Coffee and Clipper Tea - appeared in the UK.

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"The UK is truly a world leader for fairtrade and we're proud of that.

"But there is still a very long way to go in securing the levels of market access that would drive the breadth and depth of impact for farmers and workers we all want to see."

Sales of fairtrade sugar continued to rise with a 25% growth last year.

Chocolate, cocoa and bananas grew by 52%, 5% and 4% in sales value respectively whereas coffee and tea sales have continued to hold steady.

Other notable growth areas were fresh vegetables at 316% up over 2013, due to increased conversions of product ranges such as Kenyan green beans to fairtrade. Wine sales grew by 15% for the second consecutive year.

Britain leads the world on fairtrade, with more than 4500 certified products from 385 firms on sale and in excess of 11,000 local fairtrade campaigns in towns, schools, workplaces and faith groups.