Yesterday Sainsbury’s announced that their own-brand Red and Gold Label, Green and Rooibos teas are no longer going to be Fairtrade certified. They will be replaced by Sainsbury’s own ‘Fairly Traded’ range of tea instead. These will be the first products launched as part of a ‘pilot’ under their new approach to sustainable sourcing. You can read our response to this announcement here. You can also read Oxfam’s response here and Traidcraft’s here.
Fairtrade Vs ‘Fairly Traded’
We want to be clear – this tea will be clearly labelled on front of pack as ‘Fairly Traded’ but will not be Fairtrade certified. We are concerned that this is extremely misleading to consumers and potentially damaging to the Fairtrade movement.
Of equal concern is that the farmers and workers who grow this ‘Fairly Traded’ tea will not be allowed to decide themselves how they invest their ‘social premium’ (the equivalent of the Fairtrade Premium). Instead, the money – their rightful earnings – will be held centrally by Sainsbury’s and farmers and workers will have to apply to a board in London for it.
Over 220,000 tea producers stand to be affected by the change, and those we have spoken to are deeply dismayed. Fairtrade farmers and workers 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. We work for, OWN our product and OWN our premium. We see the proposed approach as an attempt to replace the autonomous role which Fairtrade brings and replace it with a model which no longer balances the power between producers and buyers.’