Sainsbury's fairly traded tea

Global citizen claims Fairly Traded shifts “power away from individual farmers and back to big business”.

Sainsbury’s has been urged to revert back to stocking Fairtrade own brand tea, a year after it switched to its own Fairly Traded mark.

The campaign group Global Citizen has launched a petition to persuade the supermarket to return to Fairtrade own brand tea, claiming the Fairly Traded scheme shifts “power away from individual farmers and back to big business”.

It argued this was because farmers have to apply to a London-based advisory board for a cash bonus, which the Fairtrade system gives them automatically.

As Sainsbury’s vowed it would publish updates on the progress of this pilot at regular milestones, Global Citizen has called for urgent information from the retailer regarding the impact of Fairly Traded.

It has also launched a petition to persuade Sainsbury’s CEO Mike Coupe to provide an update. The organisation tweeted via its @GlblCtznUK account last week: ‘Are you listening @Sainsburys? It’s been a year since you ditched @Fairtrade from some teas, and we’ve got some questions for your CEO. @FairtradeUK #NotMyCupOfTea.’

A Sainsbury’s spokeswoman said: “Our first year update, showing the progress we’ve made to support farmers producing our Red Label tea in Africa, will be published soon.”

The Fairly Traded scheme has also been criticised by the ASA for potentially misleading consumers into thinking Fairtrade and Fairly Traded are one and the same. In a partly upheld ruling, Sainsbury’s was forced to change how it displays its Fairly Traded tea online in March when the watchdog considered customers may not understand that the Fairly Traded term specifically referred to a scheme run by Sainsbury’s, adding that it “would not be clear that the scheme was not related to Fairtrade”.