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The Independent Voice of the Commodity Industry


Catholic Agency for Overseas Development (CAFOD) has expressed concern at the announcement by Sainsbury’s supermarket in the UK that it will move away from the well-known Fairtrade mark for its own brand tea. Concern has also been expressed that the supermarket – and other supermarkets in the UK – plan to move away from Fairtrade certification for other products, including coffee.

While Sainsbury’s has said the ‘fairly traded’ scheme it will trial for its tea will operate in a similar way to Fairtrade, small scale producers say they are concerned that they will lose control over how the money made from their goods can be spent.

The Fairtrade mark guarantees that producers receive a guaranteed minimum price for their goods alongside an additional premium, which communities spend on improving their living conditions.

A big difference with Sainsbury’s proposed scheme is that, while the supermarket says it would continue to pay the social premium, the Sainsbury’s Foundation would decide how it is spent, rather than the communities themselves. Producers would have to apply to the Sainsbury’s foundations for grants to access the premium.

Neil Thorns, Director of Advocacy at CAFOD, says Sainsbury’s has not explained how small-scale farmers would be better off under the new proposed scheme than with the current Fairtrade mark. He said: “We are concerned that this new pilot scheme will not meet the rigorous and important standards set by Fairtrade, which people can recognise on their shelves through the Fairtrade Mark.

“Taking control of the premium out of the producers’ hands can never be the right thing to do. Our supporters look for the Fairtrade Mark because they believe in supporting poor farmers around the world. Sainsbury’s has previously been a leading light on enabling them to do this and we urge them not to move away from this.”

CAFOD co-founded the Fairtrade Foundation in 1992 alongside Christian Aid, Oxfam, Traidcraft and others, and the Catholic community has since shown enormous support for the Fairtrade scheme, with over 500 parishes across England and Wales now certified as Fairtrade. The Fairtrade Foundation has said 229,000 farmers would be affected by Sainsbury’s proposed change.

CAFOD has joined with other organisations to send a letter to Sainsbury’s CEO, asking him to urgently review and reconsider the supermarket’s plans.

The letter can be found on the Catholic Agency for Overseas Development’s website.



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  1. John Nuwagaba

    The decision of Sainsbury Supermarket to move away from Fairtrade is sad news for tea small holder producers in the South. Fairtrade gives 3 key guarantees that have enabled small holder farmers to get their livelhoods transformed.
    1. Guarantee of minimum price this has protected small holder farmers who even have no access to current market information to trade and make their farmers prosper
    2. Social premium. This has enabled us to transform our communities i.e heath projects, school project , water and sanitation projects , bridge construction for village feeder footpath just to mention a few not forgetting quality enhancement.
    .3.Access to affordable financing . Small holder producers could make without access to affordable trade finance. ACPCU has been able to grow because of having access to affordable trade finance.

    Let us all put our efforts together to stop this move by Sainsbury


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