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    Supermarkets planning to join forces for Fairtrade products

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    Supermarkets are in talks with the Fairtrade Foundation about combining forces to buy ethically sourced bananas, coffee and cocoa from farmers in developing countries under long-term contracts in what would be the first “buying coalition” of its type. 

    According to report in Financial Times, the retailers, which include a handful of major supermarkets, are in discussions after the competition watchdog recently indicated that it would not fine them for violating anti-competition laws. A pilot scheme is now under way.

    The report stated that bananas, coffee and cocoa purchased under the scheme, known as the Shared Impact Initiative, could be on the shelves of British supermarkets within months, the British non-governmental organisation added. The initiative would increase the volume of Fairtrade produce available to consumers, it said. The Co-op is taking part in a cocoa-only pilot for now but coffee and bananas would be next.

    Anna Mann, associate director for responsible business at Fairtrade, said: “We don’t think we’ll achieve environmental sustainability — or any sustainability — in supply chains without businesses working together more.”

    She added that the initiative would enable supermarkets to club together to pay farmers a minimum price and a premium, allowing them to invest in sustainable practices such as pruning, agroforestry and use of organic fertilisers. Until now, contracts with farmers had often been short term, dependent on a single buyer and subject to sudden change, she said.

    Fairtrade and Competition and Markets Authority stated that the idea is to provide farmers in countries such as Ivory Coast, Ghana, Kenya and Colombia the security of three-to-five year contracts so that they can invest in practices to combat the impact of climate change.

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