Statement in support of Fairtrade mark following launch of Sainsbury’s Fairly Traded range

Fairtrade Malawi 09 10 2017The Revd John Proctor, General Secretary of the United Reformed Church, has made the following statement regarding the news that the Fairtrade Foundation is unable to accredit Sainsbury’s new Fairly Traded range of tea products with its official mark. 

‘Over the past two decades, the United Reformed Church has been proud to support the work and aims of The Fairtrade Foundation, which seeks to improve the wages and working conditions for farmers and workers in developing countries. 

‘The Fairtrade Foundation’s vision of a world in which all producers can enjoy secure and sustainable livelihoods, fulfil their potential, and decide on their future, is one that the United Reformed Church believes in. Since 1993, we have been committed to promoting the sale of goods that are accredited with the Fairtrade mark.

‘It is therefore deeply worrying that, in the past year, Cadbury’s Chocolate and Sainsbury’s Supermarkets have taken steps to alter the nature of their partnerships with The Fairtrade Foundation. We are particularly concerned that Sainsbury’s has chosen to withdraw many of its products from the Foundation’s accreditation scheme in favour of a new, in-house Fairly Traded scheme, which will not be monitored by The Fairtrade Foundation. We are concerned that other retailers and brands might follow suit, and we urge them not to do so. 

‘The Fairtrade mark is an important independent indicator that products meet the high economic and social standards necessary to guarantee farmers and workers a fair deal. Fairtrade reputation and success over the past two decades have empowered producer groups to negotiate terms for farmers and whole communities. Farmers have expressed their concern that Sainsbury’s withdrawal from the Fairtrade scheme will  "bring about disempowerment."

‘We continue to support the work of the Fairtrade Foundation. It is vital that the Foundation is not forced into a position by retailers where it feels it must dilute or compromise its high standards.  We encourage our members to favour and buy products which carry the Fairtrade mark, and to write to Sainsbury’s expressing their concern at the change.’

What you can do:

  • Continue to buy Fairtrade products which bear the Fairtrade mark, and encourage your friends to do the same.
  • Write to Sainsbury’s Chief Executive, Mike Coupe, expressing your concerns. You can find more information and guidance on how to compose and send a letter on the Joint Public Issues Team website.
  • You may also wish to raise concerns with your local Sainsbury’s supermarket.