Sales of Fairtrade certified wine are set to rise 46% in the UK this year, the Fairtrade Foundation has predicted.

The prediction shows that interest in Fairtrade wines has continued to grow, despite concerns that consumers would turn their backs on ethical products as the economic downturn cuts spending power.

Official figures for 2008 will not be released until early next year.

Around 200 consumers turned up to a special tasting in London last night (12 November), following the third annual Fairtrade Wine Competition in the UK.

Fairtrade certified wine, which can currently only come from South Africa, Argentina and Chile, constitutes around 1% of the UK wine market.

Vicky Wood, marketing manager for wine at the Co-operative Group, said that the retailer's sales of Fairtrade wine were growing by 19% year-on-year, compared to growth of 6% for non-Fairtrade wines. Fairtrade now accounts for nearly 5% of wine sales at the Co-op, she said.

Nick Day, chair of the UK Fairtrade Wine Committee, said: "The more we can encourage consumers to try Fairtrade wines and see the quality for themselves, the more benefits we are able to bring to the individual Fairtrade producers and to their local communities."