Nestlé UK launches first fair trade coffee

By Chris Mercer

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Fair trade

Nestlé, the world's largest direct coffee buyer, will launch its
first certified fair trade brand across the UK this month as
consumers place ever more importance on ethical shopping.

The firm said its new instant coffee, named Partners' Blend and to be sold under the Nescafé brand, would be sourced from several certified fair trade cooperatives in Ethiopia and El Salvador.

Nestlé said its market research had revealed "a new consumer group that, while not currently regular purchasers of fair trade coffee, are predisposed to fair trade and/or sustainable products"​.

Alastair Sykes, chief executive of Nestlé UK and Ireland, said consumers were increasingly concerned about farmers in developing countries getting a source of income that could support their families and encourage sustainable land management.

The UK's Fairtrade Foundation has certified Nestlé's new coffee and president Harriet Lamb described the move as a "turning point for fair trade in the UK.

"This is the first time that one of the four major coffee roasters has taken its first step in response to rapidly growing consumer demand for products independently certified by the Fairtrade mark."

The group said there were now more than 1,000 certified fair trade food and drink products in the UK, including coffee, tea, bananas and chocolate, only a decade after the first three were launched.

The UK market for certified fair trade products has grown by around 40 per cent every year for the last five years, according to the Foundation. Market value reached £140m in 2004.

It added that the most recent survey by MORI​ showed that half of Britain's adults claim to recognise the green, blue and black of the Fairtrade logo.

Lamb assured that this mark, certified by the Fairtrade Foundation, is the "only independent guarantee that disadvantaged producers in developing countries have received a better deal"​. The mark is based on criteria developed by the Fairtrade Labelling Organisations International.

Lamb added that the move by Nestlé now "throws the challenge to other major coffee companies not yet doing fair trade"​. Fair trade options are already available at Britain's leading coffeehouses Costa Coffee and Starbuck's.

Nescafé Partners' Blend will be sold at all major retailers and at a number of public sector outlets across the UK from mid-October. The retail price is expected to be around £2.69 for 100g.

The UK's third biggest retailer, Sainsbury's, is currently selling Nescafé Original at around £1.77 for 100g. As for own-label, the UK's Co-op retailer sells its Fairtrade Gold Roast Coffee for around £3.19 for 200g.

Lamb said she expected "the addition of Nescafé Partners' Blend to bring a new wave of coffee drinkers to fair trade, bringing more opportunities to more farmers in more countries"​.

Nestlé will also be hoping that the move into fair trade can boost its image among certain sections of Britain's consumers. A number of students' unions at universities across the country have supported a boycott of Nestlé products due to alleged unethical actions by the firm in the developing world.

Related topics: Tea and Coffee, R&D

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