On Tuesday 24th October members of Macclesfield Fairtrade Town Group met with Sainsbury’s local store manager to present him with a letter signed by many Macclesfield Fairtrade supporters expressing their concern about Sainsbury’s recent move to drop the Fairtrade certification from their Red Label tea replacing it with their own “Fairly Traded” scheme.
Sainsbury’s have introduced the new scheme to secure their supply chains and, like Fairtrade, their scheme includes a guaranteed minimum price and a social premium. However, crucially, the social premium is kept by Sainsbury’s and farmers and producers have to apply to a board sitting in London to access this money.
Tea farmers in Africa have publicly opposed the move saying “Your model will bring about disempowerment” as it takes away their power to decide on how the ‘Sainsbury’s social premium’ should be invested to benefit their communities.
Under Fairtrade the Fairtrade premium is paid directly to producers and farmers who decide within their own communities on the best use of that money, whether it is reinvested in their business to improve their product or used to improve their community’s healthcare or education facilities. This together with the other benefits of Fairtrade makes Fairtrade an alternative way of trading that empowers producers to take control and trade their way out of poverty.
Producer empowerment is fundamental to Fairtrade.
Sainsbury’s new Fairly Traded scheme is also confusing for consumers and risks undermining the credibility of ethical labelling. While the Fairtrade Foundation is open to new ways of working that will make the benefits of Fairtrade available to more producers we do not believe that Sainsbury’s new scheme maintains the standards required for Fairtrade.
Read the open letter from tea farmers in Africa here.
Sign the petition to Mike Coupe here.