Latest Fairtrade product sales figures show shoppers care 'more about Fairtrade than ever', organisation claims
UK shoppers "care more than ever" about the sustainability of the products they buy, according to the Fairtrade Foundation, which yesterday released figures showing its farmers in the 'Global South' last year reaped a $41m boost for their local communities from products purchased by UK citizens.
Strong UK sales performance across various Fairtrade products in 2019 led to a $41m premium going directly to Fairtrade farmers and workers to support investment in farmer and worker-led projects that bolster local economies, combat climate impacts, and improve community services in developing countries, the group said.
The Fairtrade Foundation aims to ensure farmers in developing countries are fairly paid for their work, in addition to delivering specialist programmes to help disadvantaged communities boost productivity in the face of challenges such as climate change.
Yesterday's 2019 annual report reveals sales of flowers carrying the Fairtrade label grew by 12 per cent in the UK last year, while Fairtrade cocoa sales ticked up by 23 per cent, coffee sales grew three per cent, and wine rose 10 per cent, all helping to further support farmers in developing economies. Sales of Fairtrade gold also rose by as much as 30 per cent.
Michael Gidney, chief executive of the Fairtrade Foundation, said the organisation would continue to campaign for trade justice and to "challenge businesses to do more for farmers and workers in their supply chains".
"But these figures show it's not just us, the UK public want fairness in their supply chains as do many businesses who are doing the right thing," he said. "The message is clear. Make fairness a part of the products we know and love."
The update comes just days after leading chocolate brand Kit-Kat announced it was ending its 10 year use of the Fairtrade label and would switch to the Rainforest Alliance certification scheme.
Gidney told the Guardian newspaper at the time that the move from parent company Nestle was "profoundly disappointing". "Nestle's relationship with farmers in Ivory Coast has been able to make a huge difference to village communities, helping them to receive electricity and water pumps," he said. "The decision is a huge blow."
However, Nestle said it was looking to harmonise its approach to sustainability certifications across its brands by shifting to use the Rainforest Alliance label. Simon Billington, global technical manager for Nestle Confectionery, told the Guardian the firm was aware "the move will have an impact on some farmers", but insisted it was "working hard" to mitigate such impacts and would provide financial support to help its farmers certify with the Rainforest Alliance if they wished.
"Our expanded partnership with the Rainforest Alliance underlines our commitment to sustainable cocoa sourcing throughout our global supply chain," he said. "Our successful partnership with Fairtrade is ending as we harmonise our certification for sustainable sourcing internationally."
The developments came as the Rainforest Alliance separately today announced a more robust set of criteria and measurement for its certification scheme, which it said would replace its existing programs from the middle of next year.
The global non-profit said it expected at least two million farmers around the world to use the new certification program to produce better crops, adapt to climate change, increase their productivity, and reduce their costs. The move follows the merger of the non-profit with rival certification programme UTZ in 2018.
The new program consists of a Sustainable Agriculture Standard with requirements for farms and supply chains, alongside a new assurance suite and suite of tools to measure progress against sustainability objectives, Rainforest Alliance explained.
"The new certification program incorporates new tools to support farmers and companies to set clear sustainability targets and focus investments to improve positive impacts for people and nature," said Ruth Rennie, director of standards and assurance at the Rainforest Alliance. "These tools and innovations will support more resilient agriculture and help make responsible business the new normal. This is increasingly urgent in our age of climate change, biodiversity loss, and global inequality."
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