Fairly Traded

How Sainsbury’s is responding to global challenges

The world is changing. Global warming, extreme weather and volatile prices are making it harder for farmers to produce the foods we love. So Sainsbury’s is changing too. As part of our new approach we have launched a new pilot programme to support our tea farmers in Africa, called Sainsbury’s Fairly Traded - a new way of working that will empower tea farmers in Malawi, Kenya and Rwanda to strengthen their businesses and communities as they tackle these ever growing challenges. That way, they can make a better life for themselves and their families. And we can make sure our customers continue to enjoy a great quality cup of tea for many years to come.

Our tea farmers in Africa are on the frontline of climate change. It’s already having a noticeable impact on their lives and livelihoods. Seasonal rains on which farmers have depended for countless generations are failing - arriving at the wrong time; or raining too much, or too little. The result? An unpredictable mix of droughts and floods, of soil depletion and loss of vital nutrients which can significantly impact the amount of tea they can produce.

In short, the world is changing – and that means we need to change with it. Which is why Sainsbury’s has launched a new pilot programme to support our tea farmers in meeting these challenges – and by doing this – helping to secure the future of great quality tea for our customers.

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Fact Sheet: Sainsbury’s Sustainability Standards

Fact Sheet: Fairly Traded Pilot


The Sainsbury’s Fairly Traded pilot provides tea farmers with financial security through a guaranteed minimum price for their crop along with a social premium for investment. It also gives farmers the additional opportunity to build long-term relationships with Sainsbury’s and receive tailored advice, data and practical support to help them respond to their specific challenges.

Practical support programmes, called Sainsbury’s Foundation programmes, will be funded through the social premium, and be directly linked to farmers’ strategic action plans.

“We’ll be listening closely to our farmers and our advisers, and learning from them as we go along.”

Mike Coupe
Group Chief Executive, Sainsbury’s

Support programmes could include training in the latest agricultural techniques, to advice on reducing energy costs to improved health and education facilities for farming communities. Where required, support will be delivered on the ground by best-in-class experts, chosen for their capability in addressing specific issues.

Underpinning the pilot is a new set of Sainsbury’s Sustainability Standards. These are, in essence, a new framework, specially designed with tea farmers in mind, and closely aligned to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

Our Sainsbury’s Sustainability Standards will help their users – our tea farmers - to identify their particular strengths and weaknesses via a robust system of data collection, covering the full range of social, economic and environmental metrics. This will enable farmers to learn from each other, sharing best practice. Our Standards are designed to complement and build on existing certification schemes. Like them, they will be independently audited.

Launching in conjunction with the pilot programme is a new advisory board, composed of experts who will lead and develop the Sainsbury’s Foundation programmes, to support farmers and growers. Advisory board members will include independent specialists from charities, academics and NGOs and will be set-up and run by Sainsbury’s.



This is undoubtedly a significant new step for us – but it’s not a leap in the dark. It builds on two decades’ worth of sustainability initiatives. These range from our leadership in sustainable fishing, in partnership with the Marine Stewardship Council, through to our support for farmers in both the UK – via, for example, the Dairy Development Group – and internationally, through our Fair Development Fund, run in collaboration with Comic Relief.

This accumulated experience has helped inform our new pilot outlined above. As Sainsbury’s Group Chief Executive Mike Coupe writes, “I’m immensely proud to be launching the Fairly Traded pilot. Ethical and sustainable sourcing are at the heart of our business and as the world changes we cannot stand still. That’s why this innovative pilot will build on our existing work and relationships and we’re aiming to deliver significant benefits for our farmers, our business and our customers.

 “The business case is clear. Our farmers and growers can expect financial security through long-term relationships and a greater level of support to help them plan for their futures. At the same time we safeguard the future quality and availability of the great British cuppa for our customers.

 “We don’t pretend to have all the answers – far from it. This is about testing and developing new approaches, listening closely to our farmers and our advisers, and learning from them as we go along.”

“But while we are realistic about the size of the task we’ve set ourselves, we are very ambitious about its potential. Because this is a critical business issue. Doing more of the same is no longer enough. In essence, it is about making our supply chain fit for the future. And that means securing the future of our customers’ best-loved products, and at the same time, a decent future, too, for our farmers, producers, their families and communities.”

Find Out How We Are Empowering Our Farmers

For more information about our new approach to how we source with integrity visit our values page.