Tate & Lyle's Fairtrade commitment is sweet news for 6,000 farmers in Belize

23 Februrary 2008 

The commitment to convert 100% of its retail branded sugar to Fairtrade, which is announced today by Tate & Lyle, is especially sweet news for the 6,000 small-scale growers in the Belize Sugar Cane Farmers’ Association, who will be the first to benefit from the additional Fairtrade premiums of US$60 per tonne it will generate.

In one of the biggest switches ever to be made to Fairtrade, around 70,000 tonnes of certified sugar from Belize is expected to be involved in the first phase of the programme. This increases tenfold the total volumes of Fairtrade sugar sold in the UK in 2007. It will yield total Fairtrade premiums of around US $4 million (£2 million) for investment by farming communities in the first year alone. Starting in February 2008, the full conversion of Tate & Lyle’s retail range is expected to be completed by the end of 2009.

The Fairtrade Foundation applauds the vision and commitment of Tate & Lyle, the Belize Sugar Cane Farmers’ Association and its partner Belize Sugar Industries, who have been working hard with the Fairtrade Foundation and its international network for over two years to plan the move and achieve the certification for the farmers. This move comes at a critical time for the farmers and the whole Belizean sugar industry, which faces challenges from changes to the EU Sugar Regime, and from Hurricane Dean, which devastated farms in the region in 2007.

“We’re delighted to be able to kick off our annual Fairtrade Fortnight with this fantastic news for sugar growers,” says Harriet Lamb, Executive Director of the Fairtrade Foundation. “The conversion of such an iconic household brand to Fairtrade means many more people will be able to choose Fairtrade sugar every time they shop, confident in the knowledge that small farmers in Belize are able to improve their lives and their communities as a result.”

The Fairtrade sugar will be available first from Waitrose and Nisa stores in 1kg bags, and will gradually become available in a range of other supermarkets, other stores and through catering outlets.

Representatives of the Belize Sugar Cane Farmers’ Association and the Belize Sugar Industries will be visiting the UK during Fairtrade Fortnight. They will be joining the Fairground festivities on London’s South Bank on London’s South Bank on Sunday 24 February, which will officially launch the 2008 Fortnight.

For more information please contact Eileen Maybin at the Fairtrade Foundation eileen.maybin@fairtrade.org.uk or call 020 7440 7695/07770 957 451

Belize sugar farmers' comments

Giovanni Loria, Chairman of the Corozal Division of Belize Sugar Cane Farmers’ Association says, “We’ve been talking about Fairtrade for the past year. It’s a positive action because here you can see, our community centre is in a deplorable state, our school is also in a deplorable state, that was caused by the hurricane that shook us last year. That’s why I am fully supporting this Fairtrade move.

Raynaldo Aban is a sugar cane farmer from San Joaquin village in Corazal, Belize, says, “The income that we will get will help us in many projects, such as infrastructure, and community development….I would like to tell the people from Great Britain that Belize has a good quality of sugar, and that farmers in Belize will benefit a lot from being certified as Fairtrade.”

Fairtrade Foundation member organisation comments

George Gelber, Head of Policy at CAFOD, Catholic Agency for Overseas Development says "Tate and Lyle’s decision to make sure all its retail branded sugar is Fairtrade by 2009 is a huge boost for the small-scale growers of the Belize Sugar Cane Farmers’ Association. Tate and Lyle’s decision couldn’t come at a better time. With changes in EU trade rules, small farmers will increasingly find themselves in competition with some of the world's most efficient and low cost producers. It is now up to us to choose Fairtrade whenever we buy sugar, confident that the Fairtrade premium represents a more secure future for farmers and their families. Hopefully many more small-scale growers will become Fairtrade producers in the coming years."

For further CAFOD information, contact: Mel Beardon on 020 7095 5541 / 07785 950585 or mbeardon@cafod.org.uk

David McCullough, Trading Director at Oxfam GB says, “We welcome Tate and Lyle’s announcement. Fairtrade has become increasingly visible on the high street and this latest development will only strengthen its presence up and down the country – ultimately guaranteeing more and more farmers a fair price.

“We hope other companies will follow suit by demonstrating a similarly strong commitment to Fairtrade.”

For further Oxfam information, contact Lucy Brinicombe on 01865 472192 or LBrinicombe@oxfam.org.uk