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Consumers have remained loyal to buying goods accredited by the Fairtrade charity despite the economic slowdown, figures revealed.

Fairtrade help tackle poverty in developing countries and its goods are becoming increasingly popular with shoppers as a 55% increase in sales proves.

Harriet Lamb, executive director of the Fairtrade Foundation, said: "This continuing uplift in sales is great news and shows the public is still taking Fairtrade to heart.

"Every day in shops up and down the country consumers are becoming the champions of change. Times are tough for everyone, but producers need Fairtrade now more than ever.

"In Kenya recently, a farmer told me that a bag of maize had increased by 100%. On top of this, farmers are struggling to pay soaring fuel and fertiliser costs.

"Fairtrade offers people a ladder out of poverty, helping farmers themselves work towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals. Business needs to play its part in offering farmers a market in the UK, so opening the way for more farmers to sell their goods on fairer terms."

The Fairtrade Foundation's annual conference Tipping the Balance announced that trade grew for April to June 2008 to an estimated ?176 million from ?113 million in the same period last year.

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