Fairtrade International has launched a scheme that will allow manufacturers to display the Fairtrade logo when a single ingredient meets the criteria, whereas current restrictions require them to buy all components on Fairtrade terms.
The commodity-based sourcing scheme is designed to encourage manufacturers to buy more Fairtrade cocoa, sugar and cotton. Fairtrade Sourcing Programs enable manufacturers to bulk-buy a single commodity as Fairtrade, whereas the Fairtrade Mark requires them to buy all the ingredients or components they can on Fairtrade terms.
Under the scheme, products will carry a different Fairtrade label, with a white background and a description of the commodity. Manufacturers are not obliged to use the label, which will appear on cotton products in the UK this year, and may be used on British cocoa and sugar products next year.
Nine companies in Germany, Switzerland and Japan have already committed to increase Fairtrade purchases under Fairtrade Sourcing Programs. For example, Riegelein will source as Fairtrade all cocoa for its own-label range by 2017 ; Mars will do the same for all the Twix bars it sells in Germany. Swiss company Switcher will be the first to use the new approach in cotton.
Coop, the retailer with the largest selection of Fairtrade products in Switzerland, aims to source Fairtrade cocoa for all its own-label products by 2017. Its ‘Chococroc’ biscuit will be its first product with the white label, with more to follow later this year.
Japanese retailer Aeon, which has been selling Fairtrade products including coffee and chocolate under its own brand, Topvalu, since 2004, will be the first in Asia to work with the programme. It will increase its volumes of Fairtrade cocoa tenfold by 2020.
The deals will benefit existing and new Fairtrade cocoa farmers in Ghana, the Ivory Coast, Dominican Republic and Peru, increasing Fairtrade cocoa sales sixfold in Germany in 2014 and delivering 14% growth to Fairtrade cocoa farmers worldwide, by close to 6,000 metric tonnes.
Many of the manufacturers have set multi-year growth targets, so Fairtrade farmers will benefit from year-on-year increases in sales. Mars is working towards sourcing 100% Fairtrade certified cocoa by 2020.
The Fairtrade Foundation estimates cocoa farmers sell just 28% of all available certified cocoa on Fairtrade terms. However, in recent years, a growing number of companies have committed to sourcing up to 100% of their raw commodities sustainably, offering a new opportunity for Fairtrade farmers.
A spokesperson for the Foundation said Fairtrade Sourcing opened a second, complementary way for farmers to sell on Fairtrade terms, and a way to get more companies to make bigger, long-term commitments to Fairtrade producers. However, the Foundation did not intend to introduce the programme for cocoa in the UK until next year at the earliest. Instead it is focusing on cotton.
The spokesperson said: “While many European markets are now moving quickly ahead to launch the new Fairtrade Sourcing Program, here in the UK we’re conducting further preparatory work in 2014 to make sure we introduce this new innovation in the right way, recognising the very high levels of public trust in the Fairtrade Mark and the wide range of products that carry our current label. Therefore it’s unlikely that this will become visible to UK shoppers before 2015.
“Fairtrade Sourcing Programs is an international initiative and every national initiative will do what’s appropriate to their market. In the UK, cotton will be the first priority for the Fairtrade Foundation during 2014, in recognition of the challenges Fairtrade cotton farmers have had in selling in the UK. In terms of cocoa and sugar, we’re not introducing Fairtrade Sourcing during 2014 and are continuing to consult with stakeholders about the appropriateness for this market.”