Maidenhead Campaigners Ask Sainsbury’s Not to Ditch Fairtrade

Gathering outside Sainsbury's in Maidenhead.

Gathering outside Sainsbury’s in Maidenhead.

Many thanks to Laura Bigoni and CAFOD supporters from St Edmund Campion parish Maidenhead for joining the day of action on Saturday to ask Sainsbury’s not to remove the Fairtrade certification from their own brand tea. Information on how to support the campaign here.

Last Saturday morning, 28th October, local Sainsbury customers who are also supporters of the Fairtrade Foundation and of CAFOD (the Catholic Agency for Overseas Development) gathered outside the central Maidenhead superstore in Providence Place to raise awareness of Sainsbury’s decision to replace the Fairtrade Mark on its Red Label and selected other teas with its own ‘fairly traded’ version. The group submitted a petition to the Store Manager, signed by 100 local people, expressing their concerns.

Event organizer Laura Bigoni, a long-term CAFOD volunteer, said: “Fairtrade guarantees tea producers receive an additional premium payment – on top of the price for their tea – to invest in their businesses and communities as they see fit. We are concerned that tea farmers will lose control of the social premium they would earn under Sainsbury’s alternative scheme, with suppliers instead having to apply to a UK-based board for their funding. We are also worried that standards will be controlled by Sainsbury’s, and are not set independently. Tea farmers will not be represented in the scheme’s governance – a stark contrast to Fairtrade certification where producers are part of deciding how standards are set, monitored and reviewed.”

“We were pleased that the Store Manager came to meet us and listened to our concerns – our petition will be passed on to Sainsbury’s HQ, together with the other petitions handed in across the country. We hope that they will make an impact and encourage Sainsbury’s to rethink their strategy.”

The event was part of a nationwide campaign supported by CAFOD, Christian Aid, The Women’s Institute, Traidcraft Exchange and Tearfund calling on the supermarket to reconsider this pilot scheme. British tea drinkers account for three quarters of Fairtrade tea sales globally, with Sainsbury’s the world’s largest retailer of Fairtrade.

The Fairtrade Foundation was founded in 1992 by a group of charities including CAFOD, Christian Aid, Oxfam and Traidcraft, to create a market of better prices, decent working conditions, local sustainability and fair terms of trade for small-scale farmers. The Fairtrade Foundation estimates more than 1.65 million farmers and workers in 74 countries now get a better deal from Fairtrade.

Jo Lewry, CAFOD Community Participation Coordinator for the Catholic Diocese of Portsmouth (which includes Maidenhead), said: “Buying Fairtrade tea is a proven way to make a difference every time we drink a cup of tea, and the action by the Maidenhead group shows the mark is widely supported in this town and indeed, across the country. Sainsbury’s have been a leading retailer of Fairtrade products, making a real difference to the lives of tea farmers and their families in some of the world’s poorest countries. We’d like them to reconsider this decision to remove the Fairtrade mark from their own-brand tea.”

Online petitions asking Sainsbury’s to keep the Fairtrade mark have already attracted over 130,000 signatures.

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