Waitrose has become the first retailer to join forces with the Fairtrade Foundation. The new partnership will see Fairtrade now officially recognise and validate the work of the Waitrose Foundation, which was launched 10 years ago to help improve the lives of workers and communities in Ghana, Kenya and South Africa.

Waitrose will now share best practice with the Fairtrade Foundation to build upon existing sustainable supply chain models. In particular, Fairtrade will offer guidance on expanding trading models into new countries and regions.

“By combining Fairtrade’s expertise in this area with our retail operation, we believe we will be able to deliver greater benefits to the producers and suppliers with whom we both work and together demonstrate the future of fair trading,” said Waitrose managing director Mark Price.

“Treating people fairly is at the heart of everything we do and - whether it’s our customers, our Partners, the communities we operate in or the suppliers we work with - we endeavour always to behave responsibly. We’re celebrating the 10th anniversary of the Waitrose Foundation this year and it’s a great accolade to have Fairtrade Foundation support our work.”

This new partnerships comes in the run-up to the annual Fairtrade Fortnight campaign, which kicks off today and lasts until 8 March.

Fairtrade Foundation chief executive Michael Gidney said: “It is encouraging to see that retailers with vision are exploring new and innovative ways of working with the Fairtrade Foundation in order to benefit producers in developing countries and embedding these practices into a ‘business as usual’ approach.

“The objective of the new partnership is to work together to increase the social and economic impact of our respective supply networks, recognising the vital role that business now plays within the international development agenda. Research shows that the British public want retailers to do the right thing by their suppliers, so we look forward to this journey with Waitrose and hope that it may set a precedent that other companies will wish to emulate.”

This news follows latest figures that show Fairtrade goods are falling for the first time. However, the Fairtrade mark remains the most recognised ethical label in the UK. It represents farmers receiving the minimum price, with costs of sustainable production covered, as well as an extra Fairtrade premium for farmers to invest how they choose.