Fairtrade beverage producers must continue to innovate to cater for both older and more affluent consumers as well as younger professionals, according to new research conducted on behalf of Aimia Foods.

The company, which produces Fairtrade hot beverage brand Percol, said the research had revealed the potential of the out-of-home market. With Fairtrade product sales in the UK now standing at £172 million a year, up a "staggering" 22% on 2006, Aimia said this niche market was becoming increasingly important to manfacturers and operators in the UK.

Simon Kershaw, category marketing manager at Aimia Foods, said the research had highlighted increased support for Fairtrade products as top retailers aimed to raise awareness of their ethical credentials. He added: "By adopting a similar approach, it is here that out-of-home operators will be able to steal a competitive advantage. Offering Fairtrade beverages gives customers choice and lets them make a conscious decision, which can only be good for an operator’s own-brand."