Fairtrade’s response to the Sustainable Cotton Ranking by Pesticide Action Network UK, WWF and Solidaridad

The report ‘Sustainable Cotton Ranking’ published by Pesticide Action Network (PAN) UK, Solidaridad and WWF finds that “the majority of international companies using the most cotton globally are failing to deliver on cotton sustainability”. Just eight companies out of 37 were ranked outside the so-called ‘red zone’ in the research conducted by the brand-comparison site Rank a Brand.

Fairtrade is not surprised by these findings, as cotton farmers are an often the invisible and forgotten link in a brand’s supply chains. Currently there are almost 55,000 Fairtrade certified cotton farmers worldwide, mainly in India and West Africa. 65 percent of them grow organic cotton. In the last reporting period, Fairtrade cotton producers sold an average of slightly more than 40 percent of their production volume on Fairtrade terms – meaning they received the Fairtrade Minimum Price and Premium. Though this marks an increase on previous years, the lack of market uptake continues to be a challenge for Fairtrade cotton farmers.

By working with Fairtrade, brands can support cotton farmers to strengthen their producer organizations, access improved terms of trade and receive fairer prices. Fairtrade helps put farmers and workers in control of their own futures, empowering them to lead their own development projects and create effective, long-term farming businesses. Strong environmental standards protect the farmers’ health and safety and conserve nature. Fairtrade invites brands to work with us and build valuable relationships with the cotton farmers they source from, building a secure future for their sourcing needs and the farmers’ livelihoods.