23 May, 2017

FAQs about Sainsbury's Foundation and Fairtrade

Fairtrade tea farmers Malawi 2017 by Chris Terry
by the Fairtrade Foundation

What’s changing between Sainsbury's and the Fairtrade Foundation?

Under a new proposal from the retailer, Sainsbury’s own-brand Extra Strong, Green Tea, Red Label and Gold Label ranges will no longer be Fairtrade certified, whilst some of its premium range Fairtrade teas including Taste the Difference and Organic will continue. 

From what we understand, the non-Fairtrade certified own-brand ranges will become part of the retailer’s new “Fairly Traded” range of products. 

Sainsbury’s invited Fairtrade Foundation to be a partner ahead of the launch of Sainsbury’s Foundation (a non-charitable organisation) which is testing a new model for its tea supply chain but after consultation with farming groups in Africa we decided not to join them. 

We strongly believe in the robustness and effectiveness of Fairtrade certification and we are not prepared to compromise for an approach which has not been demonstrated to create more impact for farmers and producers.

Why exactly are you not working with the Sainsbury’s Foundation?

The Fairtrade Foundation will not become a partner in the newly announced Sainsbury’s Foundation because we are concerned that there is no evidence that it will deliver for some of the most marginalised farmers and producers who grow our tea. 

Top of the list of concerns was the fact that farmers would go from being in control of the money they earnt to spend on community and local projects to having to apply to a board in London in order to access the money they had rightfully earnt with no guarantee they would receive it. 

Fairtrade, which is 50% owned by farmers and producers, said that after consultation with farming groups in Africa the response was overwhelmingly against a further layer of bureaucracy controlled by a group far removed from the day to day life in Africa and elsewhere. 

What’s the difference between Fairtrade and ‘Fairly Traded’?

What Sainsbury’s are proposing with their “Fairly Traded” label, own accreditation and in-house sustainability programme is not Fairtrade. The “Fairly Traded” label and the Sainsbury’s Foundation’s new approach as yet represents an untested model. 

Fairtrade is the largest and most proven ethical trading scheme which has proven benefits for farmers, producers and consumers. Fairtrade represents more than 1.6m farmers and workers worldwide, who together share more than €100m Fairtrade Premium each year. 

What will it mean for farmers, producers and workers? 

The proposed changes to Fairtrade’s tea supply chain will affect 229,224 people.

We understand Sainsbury’s would like to continue sourcing some of its tea in the new ‘Fairly Traded’ range from Fairtrade-certified producers. Sainsbury’s say they will continue to commit to minimum prices and the financial equivalent of the producers premium but although the finance is technically the same, it will not be under their control, and producers will need to apply for funding. 

For many, being able to rely on Fairtrade Premium gives a trusted income which allows them to plan business and farm investments, social programmes and more.

What impact does Fairtrade have?

Fairtrade has 20 years’ experience and research shows that Fairtrade sales consistently deliver significant benefit for producers. Our latest household surveys found that household poverty is significantly lower where Fairtrade crops are the main source of income (Fairtrade International, 2017). Independent research consistently finds that combined with sales, the Fairtrade Premium and the Fairtrade Standards are powerful tools to improving incomes and reducing poverty, alongside addressing human rights issues and building stronger businesses. With transparent and rigorous standards and consultation structures, farmers and workers have greater power to raise and address problems that occur in supply chains, and negotiate with their buyers. This approach is good for business too; workers on Fairtrade-certified plantations have a greater sense of voice and ownership and are more motivated to support their company when problems arise, and stronger farm organisation makes for better business partners. 



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