Kilombero rice, produced by co-operatives in Malawi, is now being stocked in Co-operative Food stores across Scotland.
Co-op Food is the first national retailer in Scotland to stock the rice, which is ethically sourced by fair trade organisation Just Trading Scotland (JTS).
JTS began working with a smallholder farmers’ co-op in Malawi seven years ago and is supported by the Scottish government and with funding from Social Investment Scotland.
Farmers are paid a fair price for their products, which JTS then imports to the UK. The partnership continues to expand and has so far provided over 100 tonnes of rice to local schools, churches, fair trade groups and shops across Scotland.
JTS works with NASFAM – the largest independent, smallholder-owned membership organisation in Malawi. NASFAM is democratically governed by members and provides training to its members.
NASFAM was originally funded to organise tobacco production, but since 1997 has diversified to other cash and food crops and now has a membership of 110,000 in a large number of local associations.
Alasdair Fowle, the Co-operative’s divisional marketing manager for the north, said: “We are delighted to be listing the Kilombero rice in 79 of our stores across Scotland and hope to extend this to additional stores in Scotland and the remainder of the UK later in the year.
“Our customers enjoy the high quality products we offer, safe in the knowledge that we are committed to ethical sourcing and this product is another demonstration of how important it is to our brand.”
The Co-op Group stocks Fairtrade products in all of its Food stores across the UK and has converted whole own-brand categories to Fairtrade, like all block chocolate in 2002, and all hot drinks in 2008.