fairtrade bananas

Spare us the sympathy

Sir, I’m pleased it’s Fairtrade Fortnight (‘British shoppers standing up for Fairtrade,’ thegrocer.co.uk, 29 February). I run a Fair Trade business. But I am less pleased at the tired rhetoric designed to elicit sympathetic support for small-scale farmers in ‘developing’ countries. My business is 44% owned by a collective of small-scale farmers from some of the poorest countries in the world. I don’t feel sorry for them - I am forever in awe of their hard work, dedication and ingenuity. The Fairtrade mark ensures decent payment for hard work at least; and at best true empowerment and equality of opportunity as opposed to a passive position at the bottom end of the supply chain. So, stand up for Fairtrade farmers but spare us the sympathy.

Kate Gaskell, MD, Liberation Foods

Kitted out for recalls

Sir, Following the recall by Mars, food safety in the supply chain will once again be at the forefront of manufacturers’ minds, given the risk of having to pay compensation or losing consumers’ trust. For our customers food safety is crucial and we recognise the importance of investing in specialist facilities and machinery that are able to detect anomalies and ensure the quality of products. High profile cases such as the Mars recall serve as a reminder that businesses must invest in food safety strategies to protect supply chain challenges.

Alastair Isbister, VP consumer and tradeteam, DHL Supply Chain

Loss of control over pay

Sir, The BRC has reported this week that the retail sector is facing the loss of up to 900,000 jobs and the closure of thousands of shops in the next decade, stating that rising costs due to the national living wage and the new apprenticeship levy (set at 0.5% of payroll) could speed up job cuts. The intentions of both these measures are laudable. However, they pose a serious challenge to a sector already under strain. While the impact will vary from retailer to retailer, all retailers face a significant increase in costs that will erode profits and reduce the funds available for training and investment. The axe must fall somewhere, and some job losses or recruitment freezes may be inevitable. The sector is losing much control over how staff are paid so difficult organisational decisions lie ahead.

Stuart Jones, head of employment, pensions and immigration, Weightmans