Sir: Your article (‘Do our British milk farmers need fair trade protection?’, 14 July) and subsequent UK press coverage about milk pricing discussed the possibility of a protected payment scheme to help dairy farmers.
We can learn significant lessons from international ethical trading programmes, such as Fairtrade, in raising consumer awareness of the individuals behind the produce on our supermarket shelves, such as coffee, tea and bananas.
This week sees the fifth anniversary of our move to stock only 100% Fairtrade bananas in our stores. One of the reasons we have been able to sustain our supply of Fairtrade bananas is the close relationship we’ve developed with our farmers over the years, which gives them the confidence that their production costs are covered. The same insight helped create our Dairy Development Group, which also celebrates its fifth anniversary this year.
We now have farmer groups across nine different agricultural areas and it is an integral part of our 20 by 20 sustainability Plan, which commits us to doubling the amount of British food we sell by 2020, helping ensure the future of British farming.
We are here to offer our customers great prices and to run a profitable business - but not at any price. Short-term gain is not the route to the sustainable farming future that’s in everyone’s interests.
We believe that both our farming partners and our customers see the value in these values and - more than that - share them.
Mike Coupe, group commercial director, Sainsbury’s