Divine Chocolate, the leading Fairtrade company owned by cocoa farmers, is very disappointed to hear that Sainsbury’s, a supermarket that has been at the vanguard of the Fairtrade movement in the UK, has chosen to replace the Fairtrade Mark with its own “fairly traded” claim on its own-label tea. In doing so, they take away a long established and trusted assurance their customers have enjoyed to help them choose products that guarantee a range of standards, and additional income which farmers themselves choose how to invest in their families, farms and communities.
Sophi Tranchell, CEO of Divine Chocolate, says: “Fairtrade was set up to ensure a greater balance of power between producers and companies. Over more than two decades it has established itself as the most effective way of ensuring a sustainable income for farmers, and giving a genuine choice to consumers who care. This move by Sainsbury’s represents a tip in the balance back to the powerful retailers.”
In an open letter to Sainsbury’s, Fairtrade tea producers in Africa have said: “We told Sainsbury’s loud and clear: your model will bring about disempowerment. We are extremely concerned about the power and control that Sainsbury’s seeks to exert over us.”
Key to the success of, and support for Fairtrade is its guarantee that a Fairtrade Premium will be paid to farmers over and above the price of their produce (for which there is also a guaranteed minimum), and that the farmers themselves decide how to invest that Premium to improve their lives, farms and communities. Sainsbury’s proposed programme removes that guaranteed Premium, and with that, the power farmers have been given to make their own decisions about their future.
Initially this new programme will focus on Sainsbury’s own label tea, with the intention to roll it out across all Sainsbury’s own label products that are currently Fairtrade marked. This will ultimately impact on hundreds of thousands of smallholder farmers around the world, including farmers who currently supply the cocoa for their own label chocolate range.
Sainsbury’s, has a long history of priding itself as a Fairtrade leader in the grocery sector. It boasts the biggest sales of Fairtrade Marked goods in the world, and has made pioneering changes, including being the first to ensure all its bananas were Fairtrade Marked – which ensured £4m for growers and their communities per year. At the time Sainsbury’s said: 'This move to 100% Fairtrade leads the world, and really sets the standard for global Fairtrade sourcing.'
Sainsbury’s move away from using the Fairtrade Mark on its own-label products effectively disempowers both farmers and consumers, and undermines all the work Sainsbury’s, and its customers have done to date to help make Fairtrade the leading consumer-driven movement it is today.
Sophi Tranchell adds: “The Divine mission is to empower both cocoa farmers and chocolate lovers. We believe farmer-ownership is the best model to achieve that. The best way Sainsbury’s can guarantee to its customers that its products represent a fair and sustainable trading relationship with farmers is to carry the Fairtrade Mark.”
Other statements regarding Sainsbury’s announcement can be viewed using the links below:
- Fairtrade Foundation http://www.fairtrade.org.uk/Media-Centre/News/May-2017/Statement-on-Fairtrade-withdrawal-from-Sainsbury-partnership
- Fairtrade Africa http://www.fairtradeafrica.net/uncategorized/an-open-letter-to-sainsburys-from-fairtrade-producers/
- Oxfam http://www.oxfam.org.uk/media-centre/press-releases/2017/05/oxfam-reaction-to-sainsburys-launch-of-fairly-traded-pilot-project
- Traidcraft http://www.traidcraft.co.uk/blog-entry/traidcraft-statement-on-sainsburys-announcement-of-a-pilot-fairly-traded-tea-programme