The move by the world’s largest Fairtrade retailer to set up its own label for tea has divided retailers and been condemned by MPs, NGOs and tea producers
An almighty row has broken out in the small retailing niche of Fairtrade, which has prompted public outcry, led to questions in Parliament, and pitted one of the UK’s biggest supermarkets against the body that administers the Fairtrade certification scheme. In May, Sainsbury’s, the world’s biggest Fairtrade retailer, announced that it would start selling its own-brand tea under a new “Fairly Traded” label, rather than under the label of the Fairtrade Foundation.
Many tea plantations are located in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, where poverty remains endemic. They also face challenges related to climate change as well as worker shortages due to urban migration. Elsewhere, population growth is creating pressure on the livelihoods of tea smallholder farmers working already small plots of lands, says the Ethical Tea Partnership, which works with tea producers and smallholder farmers in its members’ supply chains to help them meet internationally recognised social and environmental standards. The industry is becoming increasingly concerned about how these issues will affect their supplies, as reflected by the fact that the ETP has welcomed some of the world’s highest-profile buyers – Typhoo, Fortnum and Mason, and Unilever – as members this year.
Fairtrade producers in Africa accused Sainsbury of...
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