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Producers and campaigners cry foul over Sainsbury’s Fairtrade move

This month, Sainsbury’s will replace the Fairtrade badge on its own-brand teabags and replace it with its own “Fairly Traded” label. The move has angered producers and campaign groups.

The project is part of new pilot scheme to help Sainsbury’s develop its own wide-ranging sustainability standards across 35 key commodities and ingredients. Farmers will still be offered a guaranteed minimum price, as well as a “social premium” towards community initiatives, Sainsbury’s confirmed.

The firm, which is reportedly the world’s biggest seller of Fairtrade products, said the initiative “is about testing and developing new approaches, collaborating with expert partners and listening to our farmers and producers – finding out what works, and what can be taken to scale and adopted to secure a sustainable supply chain that benefits both our suppliers and our customers”.

However, Fairtrade has said the scheme falls short of its standards. “Whilst we welcome and expect companies to work towards improving social, economic and environmental outcomes within their supply chains, we don’t believe the execution of this current model will, on balance, deliver positive changes for tea farmers,” said Fairtrade Foundation CEO Michael Gidney.

In an open letter, tea producers from across East and Central Africa and Southern Africa Networks of Fairtrade Africa also wrote: “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.”

Sainsbury’s CEO Mike Coupe said: “Our farmers and growers can expect financial security through long-term relationships and a greater level of support to help them plan for their futures.”