From the Fairtrade Foundation: You may have seen in the news recently that Sainsbury’s have decided to drop the FAIRTRADE Mark from their own-brand tea and replace it with their own ‘Fairly Traded’ label.
It means their Red and Gold Label, Green and Rooibos teas are no longer Fairtrade certified. Sainsbury’s are piloting a self-run sustainability scheme instead, and these are the first products launched as part of it.
Sainsbury’s asked the Fairtrade Foundation to work with them on their scheme, but we have some major concerns about it. You can read our statement here.
They include the fact that the farmers who grow their ‘Fairly Traded’ tea do not have a fair say in how the scheme is run. They will not be allowed to decide themselves how they invest the cash bonus they get on top of what they earn for their tea (similar to the Fairtrade Premium). Instead, the money will be held by Sainsbury’s, who have told farmers they have to apply to a board in London to find out if they can have it.
Over 220,000 tea producers stand to be affected by the change, and those we have spoken to are deeply dismayed. Fairtrade farmers have written an open letter to Sainsbury’s making it clear how unhappy they are:
‘We told Sainsbury’s loud and clear: your model will bring about disempowerment. We are extremely concerned about the power and control that Sainsbury’s seeks to exert over us.’
Another major concern is how the ‘Fairly Traded’ label on their own-brand tea could be misleading customers. It is very clearly written on the front of packs but the tea is not independently Fairtrade certified, it is self-accredited by Sainsbury’s.
Sainsbury’s are the largest retailer of Fairtrade products in the UK, and have proudly supported it for many years, with thousands of farmers and workers relying on their business. That’s why we’re hopeful that through discussions we can still persuade them to change their approach.
If you would like to show Sainsbury’s how much you support Fairtrade, you can sign the Change.org petition set up by Barbara Gwinnett, a long-time Fairtrade campaigner and Chair of Wolverhampton Fairtrade Partnership.
SUSSED sells a variety of fairtrade teas and coffees.