1000 words approx. 5 minutes to read 

You may remember that back in 2018 we launched Future of Food 2030 ambition, detailing how quality, sustainability and health are front of mind when creating our products, but also how we support the farmers, growers and producers across the world to help create the Co-op food and drink we love. 

Well, if things were tough for food producer communities before, now with the coronavirus pandemic, things are tougher still. A changing environment brings uncertainty for the people who grow and make the food we love, so it’s more important than ever to put measures in place to make sure that everyone gets a fair deal.  

Introducing our new Wellbeing Charter 

Today we’re announcing our new Wellbeing Charter, specifically designed to support producers in the developing world tackle the impact of coronavirus on their livelihoods, now and in the future.  

We’re building on solid foundations, like our leadership in Fairtrade, our robust Ethical Trade programmecampaign against modern slavery and fight for clean water. Our Wellbeing Charter comprises 5 key points: 

  1. Provide emergency relief for Fairtrade communities impacted by COVID-19 

We’re repurposing £310,000 to support Fairtrade producers through the coronavirus emergency. 

This includes £42,000 from Co-op and our supplier ICAM Chocolate UK Ltd that will benefit people like the 415 farmer members of Cat-Tocache cocoa co-operative in Peru (and their 2,075 family members), who supply our Co-op Irresistible block chocolate. They’ll be able to get emergency relief food parcels, essential PPE equipment for health personnel and quarantine hostels for people infected with COVID-19 to isolate away from their families. ​ 

  1. Keep drinking water safe and free of COVID-19 

£647,000 will be donated to clean water and sanitation projects and help tackle the spread and impact of COVID-19. 

This will support the construction of public and school toilet blocks in Fairtrade Cocoa growing communities in the Ashanti region of Ghana as well as drilling and repair of solar pumps in three health centres in Fairtrade tea growing region of Malawi. We’ll also be able to strengthen water systems in Fairtrade sugar growing region of Kasinthula, Malawi and the sanitation systems in low-income communities in Nairobi Informal Settlements.​ 

  1. Take action  against  climate change​ 

It’s imperative that as we repair and rebuild our economies, we contribute tackling climate change. 

As the first British retailer to become a signatory of the United Nations’ Our Only Future campaign, we’re committing to play our part in capping global temperature increases to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels. We’ve also joined the United Nations’ Recover Better campaign to support the call for governments across the world to prioritise a recovery from COVID-19 consistent with a sustainable world for future generations. 

In our own business, we’ve set science-based targets to rapidly decarbonise our business and the products we sell, and we’ve pledged to further reduce our direct greenhouse gas emissions by 50% by 2025 as well as to reduce the emissions from our products and services by 11% by 2025. 

  1. Protect worker and farmer rights 

The  Covid 19 crisis has  presented new challenges with  increased concerns about labour shortages, the halting of essential audits  and inspections  due to travel restrictions and increased pressures  on suppliers  to deliver – all of which can quickly  compromise welfare standards 

We are working collaboratively to provide support to our suppliers in understanding and addressing the impact of Covid-19 on workers and have taken a leadership role in building a coalition of supermarkets to deliver supplier-facing webinars which have provided support and guidance to protect workers during this period of unprecedented change. As well as regular cross-functional meetings with our supply chain we are exploring new ways carry out due diligence activities remotely and are developing a number of longer term projects to address issues being experienced by the most vulnerable workers in our supply chain and build resilience.  

This crisis is a global humanitarian challenge. Now, more than ever, we must support one another, especially the most vulnerable members of society.  By repurposing our funds, we are funnelling money right to the heart of where it is needed.  

5. Increase the visibility of Fairtrade products

From bananas to coffee through to flowers and wine, with every product that is sold on Fairtrade terms, a bit more money goes to Fairtrade communities. The more sales, the more premium to invest in the community, the more produce is protected by the  Fairtrade Minimum Price which ensures that producers should at least get the cost of production in times of global price crash.  

To be able to offer our customers the chance to purchase as much Fairtrade as possible, we have: 

  • Protected Fairtrade products within our Co-op range  and are  looking to increase Fairtrade branded lines in the upcoming range reviews  
  • Introduced Divine Chocolate into 481  Co-op stores – including Dark Raspberry, Toffee & Sea Salt bar and Gin and Tonic  
  • Launched new Co-op products including a Chocolate Coated Honeycomb Bag 
  • Relaunching our Core Block Chocolate range in an improved weight – 135G to 150G.  
  • Doubled our rate of ordering with South African, Argentinean and Chilean Fairtrade wine producers to protect farmers from expensive loans  
  • 12 new Fairtrade coffee products will launch in July and Co-op Irresistible Coffee will now offer pod, roast and ground, and bean format 
  • Promoting the world’s only Fair Trade charcoal, certified by Traidcraft, in all our stores 

Cathryn Higgs 
Head of Food Policy 

Read more on how we support farmers, producers and growers across the world at our Co-op; 

Join the conversation! 2 Comments

  1. Fantastic announcement and a well needed small contribution. Does this iniatative provided scope for other orgs to boost the cash and where did the cash come from to release this?

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  2. I tried the new Traidcraft soup with palm oil& botanicals sourced from fair trade producers. Could the coop look to selling this and phasing out one of the lines from cussons or Unilever?

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#TheCoopWay, Communities around the world, Fairtrade, Food, Water poverty