Kit Kat's move to Fairtrade will have knock on effect, says NGO

By Jane Byrne

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Fairtrade, Chocolate

Kit Kat’s decision to go Fairtrade will bring the critical mass that is needed to tip the balance of trade in favour of disadvantaged cocoa farmers, claims the Fairtrade foundation.

Nestlé UK today said that​Kit Kat, its leading confectionery brand, will be certified Fairtrade in the UK and Ireland, with the four-finger version of the brand set to be the first one to carry the Fairtrade mark in the region from January next year.

The Kit Kat range makes up approximately 23 per cent of Nestlé Confectionery UK sales so the deal is expected to increase Fairtrade chocolate sales by £43m (€47.5m) annually. The four finger version constitutes almost a quarter of the Kit Kat sales.

Harriet Lamb, executive director of the Fairtrade Foundation, said that amongst the first farmers to benefit will be members of cocoa co-operative, Kavokiva, which includes 6,000 farmers. She said that due to the significant volumes of cocoa that go into making Kit Kat the Fairtrade move opens many new possibilities for the co-operative.

The move will not only enable them to increase Fairtrade cocoa sales but will also impact other Fairtrade certified co-operatives and farmers’ groups looking to enter the Fairtrade market," ​she added.

Brand extension

Last March, Cadbury announced its commitment to source Fairtrade cocoa for its iconic Dairy Milk chocolate bars and drinking chocolate in the British and Irish markets. Sales of Dairy Milk in the UK and Ireland are worth £200m (€214m).

Richard Watts, campaign manager at UK based advocacy group, Sustain said that Fairtrade certification of products is good news for a lot of people in the developing world but he questioned why a company would seek Fairtrade certification for only one of its brands.

“We would like to see companies like Cadbury and ​Nestlé give a wholehearted commitment to Fairtrade and seek certification for all their chocolate brands. If they can do it for one chocolate bar, why not across the rest of their range,”​ he argues.

Speaking to ConfectioneryNews.com, a spokesperson for Nestlé UK said it will continue to explore the role certification should play in its plans for other brands:

“Fairtrade certification of Kit Kat in the UK and Ireland is one example of how individual markets intend to support Nestlé’s global Cocoa Plan.

“The Cocoa Plan is not just about certification, though that it’s an important part, it’s about a collaborative approach to supporting farmers from the moment they plant a tree through to giving them a market for high quality beans,” ​added the spokesperson.

He added that Nestlé is investing over £65m (€71.8m) over the next ten years to address key economic, social and environmental issues faced by the farming communities it works with.

Ethical considerations

The move to Fairtrade with Kit Kat should bolster’s Nestle tarnished reputation which resulted from the firm's infant formula marketing practices in developing countries, and which saw it become one of the most boycotted firms in the world in the 1970s and 1980s.

According to a Mintel report of January of this year, 46 per cent of UK consumers look for Fairtrade and ethical considerations when purchasing food.

Last year more than £700m (€773.4m) was spent on Fairtrade goods in the UK, an increase of more than £200m (€220.9) on 2007.

Fairer deal

The Fairtrade mark is a label that appears on products as an independent guarantee that disadvantaged producers in poor countries are getting a better deal. For a product to display the Fairtrade Mark it must meet international Fairtrade standards.

To qualify for Fairtrade certification, companies have to pay a minimum price to their suppliers, plus a premium of about $150 (€101) a tonne of cocoa. Based on volume of sales, the companies must also pay a licence fee to the Fairtrade foundation and they need to commit to pledges that no child labour is used in the cocoa production.

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