Co-op Group sugar goes 100% Fairtrade

A collaboration between the Co-operative Group and Tate & Lyle Sugars will see the convenience retailer’s entire sugar range become Fairtrade certified. The move is set to drive more than...

A collaboration between the Co-operative Group and Tate & Lyle Sugars will see the convenience retailer’s entire sugar range become Fairtrade certified.

The move is set to drive more than £1m of benefits to smallholder sugar cane farmers and sugar growing communities of Belize over the next two years.

The Group will be the first supermarket to offer a 100% Fairtrade branded and own-label sugar range, following a long-term investment by both brands.

Brad Hill, Fairtrade strategy manager at the Group, said: “We were the very first retailer to sell Fairtrade sugar and, having switched our entire own-brand range to Fairtrade almost a decade ago, it’s great to complete the shift to Fairtrade across the entire sugar fixture. Supporting sugar farmers and communities around the world is vital, and this latest venture with Tate & Lyle Sugars comes at a particularly challenging time for cane farmers in Belize.”

thumb_1052_product_bigSugar cane farmers in Caribbean and Pacific regions are losing substantial business as the result of EU policy changes, which were highlighted in Fairtrade’s 2015 report Sugar Crash.

“A European Union quota system capping EU beet sugar production, which enabled producers in developing countries to maintain their foothold in the European Union market, is set to end in 2017,” said the report. “As a result, farmers in countries such as Guyana, Jamaica, Malawi, Fiji and Swaziland, who have relied on exporting sugar to the EU and have few other options, are facing the prospect of being squeezed out of the EU sugar market. […] To make matters worse, the EU’s reforms coincide with a sharp slump in the global sugar price, which has halved in three years. Together, these two changes threaten disaster for small-scale farmers and their communities.

“According to the Department for International Development’s own research, the end of the European Union quota alone could push 200,000 people in ACP countries into poverty by 2020. When combined with low sugar prices, the picture could be much worse.”

Mike Gidney, CEO of the Fairtrade Foundation, says the commitment by the Co-op Group and Tate & Lyle Sugars is very sweet news for Fairtrade sugar cane producers in Belize, where 12-15% of the population relies on sugar cane production for their income.

“Fairtrade has already made a substantial difference in Belize, where farmers have achieved a 30% uplift in productivity,” he commented. “Commitments like this one will enable them to continue to drive change in their farming and communities.”

The collaboration will be working with the 5,000 cane grower members of the Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association (BSCFA), located in the ‘sugar belt’ area in the north of the country. Established in 1960, BSCFA was Fairtrade certified in 2008 and, since then, has received approximately $3.5m (£2.5m) a year in Fairtrade Premiums for sales of Fairtrade cane sugar.

Fairtrade_Sugar_341x164This has been used to implement replanting, harvesting and education programmes to help improve yields, and to support communities through grants for schools, medical costs and local infrastructure.

The collaboration will see the Group’s entire brown sugar range now supplied by Tate & Lyle Sugars with its Taste Experience range now including demerara, golden caster, golden granulated, dark and light soft browns, light muscovado and dark muscovado.

  • You can can find out more about what this collaboration means by visiting the Group’s online Fairtrade community, where you can engage with the cane farmers themselves directly through social media – including Belizean sugar cane farmers Javier and Neima.
  • The Fairtrade Foundation’s Fairtrade Fortnight campaign takes place from 29 February and will encourage consumers to bake muffins, pancakes and banana bread using Fairtrade products and hold breakfast events around the country to stand up for the farmers who produce UK breakfast staples, such as coffee, tea and bananas.
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