Sainsbury’s to drop Fairtrade tea: our response

Sainsbury’s supermarket recently decided to drop the official Fairtrade standards for some of its own brand tea, replacing it with their own ‘Fairly Traded’ guidelines. We believe this is a concerning move that risks undermining years of progress for farmers living in poverty. Here’s the text of a letter we recently sent to the Telegraph newspaper, alongside other organisations involved in the founding of the Fairtrade movement.

Sainsbury’s has announced that in a matter of weeks, its shelves will carry packets of tea under its own ‘Fairly Traded’ label rather than tea certified by the Fairtrade Foundation. Since 1992, the Fairtrade Foundation has delivered a scheme to give decent working conditions, local sustainability and fair terms of trade for millions of farmers and workers in developing countries. At the same time, the Fairtrade mark has become synonymous with ethical trade and quality for UK consumers.

Sainsbury’s scheme risks undermining all that has been achieved over the last 25 years. The standards are unclear, and farmers and producers may no longer be able to decide themselves directly how the money raised is spent to help their communities.

We urge Sainsbury’s, currently the largest retailer of Fairtrade products, to reconsider their plans to launch an alternative scheme that as it stands does not promise a better deal for the world’s poorest farmers and workers.

We continue to advise our supporters, who are also likely to be deeply concerned by this development, that products which carry the Fairtrade mark are still the best assurance of improved wages and working conditions for those who produce our food


You can read more about Sainsbury’s decision, and what it might mean for farmers, in this Guardian article.


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