25 years ago our members asked us to be pioneers and stock Cafedirect coffee, one of the world’s first Fairtrade products. Throughout the next decade, led by our members, we championed and campaigned to bring Fairtrade into the mainstream. From the UK’s first Fairtrade bananas through to the first whole own brand category conversion to Fairtrade in 2002. If we hadn’t listened to our members and developed a strategy to create a mass market opportunity the chances are no other retailer would have taken the initiative and Fairtrade would not have become the household and worldwide brand it since has. Our list of accomplishments over the years goes on and on and it’s not slowing down.
And our members continue to demand Fairtrade – at last year’s AGM asking that we increase our Fairtrade purchases. Since then we have moved all our chocolate confectionery into Fairtrade and announced that in 1 month’s time, all the cocoa in all Co-op products will be sourced on Fairtrade terms, returning over £400K annually to cocoa farming communities.
Why we need to support Fairtrade
Despite our own continued healthy sales growth, other previously supportive retailers have lost the impetus, with plateauing and in some cases declining sales being recorded last year. As well as this certain brands are now dropping the Fairtrade Mark from products.
And then, of course, there is Brexit and the uncertainty and concern that brings to anybody currently exporting to the UK. Particularly the most vulnerable who live in, or so close, to poverty.
Members want our Co-op to remain committed to Fairtrade in these challenging times and so by backing this year’s motion they – you – will give us the mandate to do so.
What’s next for The Co-op
- We will look to extend our ingredients policy beyond cocoa so that wherever we use bananas, tea and coffee in any Co-op label product, that it will be sourced on Fairtrade terms.
- We will look to find ways of significantly increasing our purchases of Fairtrade flowers from Kenya and Ethiopia.
- We can build a clinic and housing in Argentina and South Africa, the wine producing communities whose Malbecs and Chardonnays we enjoy so much.
Voting for this motion means quite simply, that our Co-op will remain the most committed mainstream UK business to support to Fairtrade producers. That’s not just something to be immensely proud of, it’s just about doing business the way it should be done.
During this year’s AGM we’ll be hosting fringe events throughout the day. If you’re interested in discussing Fairtrade with other members “Cocoa for change. Unwrapping our recent Fairtrade report“ will be running at 09:00 – 09:45.
In the meantime, to read more about this motion, and to find details on how to vote, visit our website.
Fairtrade Strategy Manager