The supermarket has been praised by the NFU for initiatives with British farmers that are to emerge in the new year. Although Robin Tapper, the union’s head of food and farming, said that he was unaware of specific plans for a fair trade brand, he welcomed the idea.
“Anything that would support a more equitable and sustainable route to market for our farmers would be great,” said Tapper. “Our discussions with Asda have been very useful and we will be meeting in the new year to move plans forward to create closer links with the food chain.”
Asda’s ethical trading manager, Chris McCann, told The Grocer that the development of a fair trade brand for UK farmers was in its infancy.
Supermarkets have long been criticised for squeezing British farmers. Asda already has several schemes to combat that, including a ‘cost plus’ policy where fresh produce suppliers are ensured a margin.
A fair trade brand would raise its profile on ethics further, but Fairtrade Foundation deputy director Ian Bretman warned that another brand could create consumer confusion. “The public recognise the trademark as a channel for relieving poverty in the developing world, not just a sign for ethical trade.” But, he added: “Initiatives that help the sustainability of our food producers are a good thing.”