Traidcraft statement on Sainsbury’s announcement of a pilot ‘Fairly Traded’ tea programme

May 24, 2017

Sainsbury’s yesterday announced a new pilot approach to sourcing tea. From June 2017 their own-brand Red Label tea will be sold as ‘Fairly Traded’ under their own new in-house sustainability standard, and will no longer carry the Fairtrade Mark. The retailer has made clear that it would like to extend this approach to other products, which could lead to the eventual replacement of Sainsbury’s long-standing commitment to Fairtrade standards.

Traidcraft is a pioneer of fair trade in the UK, co-founding the Fairtrade Foundation as a way for larger, mainstream businesses to engage with fair trade. We were delighted when in 2007 Sainsbury’s became the first major UK supermarket to switch all its own label tea to Fairtrade.

Robin Roth, Traidcraft CEO, said: ‘We are extremely concerned that the Sainsbury’s pilot signals a move by the UK’s leading Fairtrade retailer away from the principles we have all worked hard to establish and which have been proven to have a positive impact for farmers. We are also worried that they have created yet another system for producers to comply with.’

The new ‘Sainsbury’s Sustainability Standards’, which are described as a ‘management framework’, will also see the retailer collecting social, economic and environmental data from farmers. The ‘social premium’ – a key requirement for products carrying the Fairtrade Mark – in the Sainsbury’s scheme will be managed by a grant-making committee in London rather than paid to local producer groups.

Robin Roth added: ‘At Traidcraft we aim to empower the farmers and workers who are most vulnerable in the supply chain. We fear that this new scheme from Sainsbury’s may instead consolidate the power of the retailer over the supply chain.

‘Over the coming weeks we will be challenging Sainsbury’s to answer these questions and to explain how they will monitor the pilot scheme and how evidence of impact and farmers’ views will be factored into the decision about whether to proceed further.’

Read Sainsbury's statement.

Read about Traidcraft's approach to fair trade


1. Traidcraft consists of two organisations which work closely together: Traidcraft plc, a listed company, which sells a wide range of products from fair trade suppliers in more than 30 countries and Traidcraft Exchange, a registered charity, which challenges injustice in trade and business practice, through programmes and campaigns.

2. Traidcraft plc invests and develops products under rigorous, independently verified fair trade standards. We will continue to go beyond these minimums striving for direct relationships with our producer partners, working together to ensure their businesses and products are truly sustainable and to ensure that a fairer share of the value of products is retained by the people who grow or make them. Visit to view products.

3. Traidcraft Exchange supports small business, producer organisations and co-operatives to be socially, economically and environmentally sustainable and campaigns for fairer trade rules and business practices. Visit to donate and campaign.

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