MPs pressure Sainsbury’s to stick with Fairtrade
More than 40 MPs have added their voices to the campaign to persuade supermarket giant Sainsbury’s not to axe the Fairtrade label in favour of its own “Fairly Traded” alternative.
The cross party motion, sponsored by Green party leader Caroline Lucas, joined an online petition with over 85,000 signatures. The concern is that if Sainsbury’s introduces its own standards then the difference between its products and those sold by rival supermarkets will be difficult to judge, confusing customers.
Lucas, who has been MP for Brighton Pavillion since 2010, said: “To abandon the Fairtrade mark would be an act of extreme irresponsibility from a supermarket which claims ‘sourcing with integrity’ as one of its key values. Supermarkets should be empowering people to shop ethically not making it harder.”
The motion, which is also backed by Conservative MP Peter Bottomley, Liberal Democrat Jo Swinson and Labour’s Catherine McKinnell urged other supermarkets to “remain with and strengthen their commitment to Fairtrade certification”.
Sainsbury’s is the world’s largest retailer of Fairtrade products, but in May launched a pilot scheme of its own “Fairly Traded” branded tea, but there are worries that this policy will soon grow to include coffee and bananas as well. In 2015, the UK market for the Fairtrade label was worth around £1.6bn in retail sales, of which around £29.8m went into a communal fund that workers and farmers could use to improve their economic, social or environmental conditions.
A spokesman for Sainsbury’s said: “Sainsbury’s would welcome the opportunity to take MPs through all the benefits that our pilot will bring beyond what the current Fairtrade model offers. We are very confident that our pilot project will deliver more funding to farmers in Africa than they receive through Fairtrade as well as greater levels of support.”