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Farmers are clear: “Sainsbury’s model will bring about disempowerment”

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On 23 May 2017, the Fairtrade Foundation announced that it will not be partnering in Sainsbury’s new programme destined to replace the Fairtrade label on its Red Label and Gold Label teas. These brands will no longer be Fairtrade-certified, affecting more than 229,000 small farmers.
The decision of Fairtrade Foundation towards Sainsbury’s own programme comes from Fairtrade certified farmers, consulted by Fairtrade International regarding the decision of Sainsbury’s, who were “extremely unhappy with the move”. In an open letter, they reaffirmed their will to benefit directly from the Fairtrade Premium, unlike what is proposed by Sainsbury’s scheme.

“We have Fairtrade Premium projects which are based on community prioritised needs, and for which we are fully accountable through our governance structures especially the General Assembly. We believe that we are more credible, trustworthy and effective partners towards the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals than any other development agency or NGO”
- Fairtrade Africa tea farmers and worker

According to Michael Gidney, CEO of the Fairtrade Foundation, the implementation of Sainsbury’s model will not lead to improvements in social, economic and environmental outcomes and will not deliver positive effects for smallholders and workers. Sainsbury’s decision came after years of partnership with Fairtrade International. UK Fair Trade pioneer Traidcraft issued a statement expressing its strong concerns: Whilst Fair Trade Organisations like Traidcraft work to empower the farmers and workers who are most vulnerable in the supply chain they fear that this new scheme from Sainsbury’s may instead consolidate the power of the retailer over the supply chain.

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