ASDA push for Fairtrade label for UK farmers

By Catherine Boal

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Fairtrade, Fair trade

Supermarket giant ASDA are taking steps to make the Fairtrade
kitemark available for use by UK farmers.

The company has approached the UK based Fairtrade Foundation, asking its advice on applying the accreditation to its nationally sourced products.

If granted, the kitemark could apply to a range of products containing raw ingredients grown in the UK.

A spokesperson for ASDA told bakeryandsnacks.com that a "very positive"​ meeting had taken place with the Fairtrade Foundation.

"It is something we are interested in as this will give our products better visibility - consumers know the trademark stands for a set of principles. However it is very early days."

But, speaking to bakeryandsnacks.com, a spokesperson for the Fairtrade Foundation denied that the label would be granted for use by UK farmers."While we are obviously sympathetic to UK farmers, our remit is the developing world and that is a very different scenario."​< P>Before products can be branded 'Fairtrade' they must obtain a licence granted by the Foundation.

The organisation must be satisfied that the product's processing practices adhere to standards guaranteeing rights for workers, sustainable production and environmental stability.

However there is potential for confusion among consumers as the label is typically associated with alleviating poverty producers in developing countries

ASDA brushed aside worries over the scope for uncertainty however, saying: "We are confident we'd be able to manage any confusion."

The National Farmers Union (NFU) have been involved in discussions with ASDA and said that while they are supporting the supermarket's efforts to secure a Fairtrade label for homegrown produce, they recognise that the label in its current form would not be entirely appropriate.

Head of food and farming at NFU, Robin Tapper, told backeryandsnacks.com: "I think the customers gets over-labelled. For us it is not so much about Fairtrade but fair trade as two separate words. We want a mark which includes some of the principles behind Fairtrade such as fairness, transparency and sustainability."

Mr Tanner said that for UK farmers to benefit from the kitemark as it stands, the criteria would have to be altered but stressed that an alternative should be found to ensure UK farmers get a fairer deal.

ASDA already stock various Fairtrade products including a range of biscuits and shortbread.

This week's tentative move towards incorporating the label for a range of national produce could be seen as an attempt by the supermarket to profit from a growing trend for ethically-sourced food.

Fairtrade figures released this month showed that global sales increased by 37 per cent to €1.1bn (£758m) last year and the number of certified producer organisations grew by 127 per cent in six years - there are now 508 across 58 countries.

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