High-end UK supermarket chain Waitrose has confirmed its commitment to making all cocoa in its own brand confectionery 100% Fairtrade by the end of the year.
The announcement came at the beginning of Fairtrade Fortnight (February 25 - March 10) in the UK, which has the backing of companies and communities across the country.
The conversion to Fairtrade cocoa in Waitrose own brand confectionery will significantly increase the volume of Fairtrade cocoa sold in its stores, helping to improve living standards for cocoa farmers.
The commitment will extend to over 100 confectionery lines and increase the supermarket’s annual Fairtrade investment to more than $3.3 million, a figure that supports farmers, workers and producer organisations across the Fairtrade network.
The food supermarket retailer also sells a number of branded Fairtrade products including Divine Chocolate and, new this month, Tony’s Chocolonely - a brand with a mission to make the chocolate industry 100% slave free.
Lizzie Sutcliffe, buyer of confectionery at Waitrose & Partners said: “Responsible sourcing is something both we and our customers care deeply about. Given the popularity of our own brand confectionery and Fairtrade products in store, our new cocoa commitment is a natural fit and the perfect act of solidarity to support the Fairtrade Foundation in their campaign.
“The typical income cocoa farmers currently earn mean they often struggle to cover their production costs, even before affording essentials like food, clothing, education and healthcare. By supporting Fairtrade’s campaign and ensuring all cocoa in our own brand confectionery is Fairtrade certified, through the support of our customers, we can improve living standards for many cocoa farming communities in Africa.”
During the fortnight, Fairtrade will be encouraging governments, chocolate companies and other retailers to offer their support to help move towards a living income for cocoa farmers, with Waitrose & Partners’ commitment acting as a positive step towards more secure livelihoods for cocoa farmers.
Michael Gidney, CEO of the Fairtrade Foundation, said: “As our new report Craving change in chocolate outlines, the cocoa industry faces considerable challenges, with low prices, farmer poverty, lack of investment and pressure from climate change threatening the long term sustainability of the industry. Waitrose & Partners’ excellent commitment to Fairtrade will help many more cocoa farmers improve their livelihoods and see a better return for their hard work.”