London, 2017-May-26 — /EPR Retail News/ — Sainsbury’s has today (23 May 2017) announced an ambitious new approach to the way it sources key crops and ingredients, from tea and prawns to coffee and bananas. It will empower its farmers to build more resilient businesses and improve the quality of life of their communities in the face of increasing environmental and economic challenges – thereby securing their long-term future and the supply of great quality products on the supermarket’s shelves.
- Sainsbury’s will boost support for hundreds of thousands of farmers and workers – helping them to become more resilient in the face of escalating challenges from climate change to global competition, health and geo-political tensions
- Plan includes the roll-out of new Sainsbury’s Sustainability Standards across key crops and ingredients, the pilot of a new sustainable sourcing approach for tea farmers and the set-up of an expert advisory board
- The tea pilot will empower farmers by providing a minimum price and social premium, in addition to the guarantee of a long-term relationship, the provision of expert advice, training and bespoke information to help secure their future livelihoods
- The plan will be underpinned by close collaboration with expert advisors, and its progress monitored through independent audits
At its heart is cutting-edge data and insight, linked to the UN Sustainable Development Goals, delivered in part through the launch of a new Sainsbury’s Sustainability Standards programme – a brand new management framework to support farmers of its 35 key crops and ingredients in meeting the highest sustainability standards. Farmers will, for the first time, be able to identify their strengths and weaknesses via robust data collection across the breadth of social, economic and environmental metrics and have visibility of best practice amongst peers. The insight will enable farmers to develop strategic action plans to improve their business performance and the well-being of their workers.
The Sainsbury’s Sustainability Standards, which build on and recognise existing certifications, have been co-authored with specialist advisors and peer-reviewed by 50 independent experts and will be independently audited. They have been piloted on prawns in Thailand and Belize and will now be piloted on other key crops such as tea, wheat, potatoes, sugar and bananas.
One of their imminent applications is with tea farmers in Africa as part of a pilot on key lines of bySainsbury’s tea, called Sainsbury’s Fairly Traded – a new way of working that will enable tea farmers in Africa to strengthen their businesses and communities as they tackle ever growing challenges, such as the impact of climate change and associated droughts, soil erosion and crop diseases.
The pilot provides tea farmers with a guaranteed minimum price for their crop along with a social premium, with the additional opportunity to build long-term relationships with Sainsbury’s and receive tailored strategic 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, informed by insight from their Sainsbury’s Sustainability Standards and their own specific needs, as well as country-specific information linked to the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Example 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.
The support programmes and the application of the Social Premium funds will be independently audited by a ‘Big 4’ auditor, and frequently evaluated by Sainsbury’s to ensure effectiveness. One of the first newly-labelled tea to arrive on shelves will be Red Label Tea in June 2017.
Sainsbury’s Group Chief Executive, Mike Coupe, said: “Sourcing with integrity has always been at the heart of Sainsbury’s business – offering customers high quality products with a provenance they can trust. As our farmers and their communities face mounting challenges, we want to advance the way we work with them over the long-term – so that we can secure their businesses, providing them and their communities with a better quality of life and in so doing secure the future supply of great products our customers love for many years to come.
“We have gained a lot of experience empowering our farmers to build resilient businesses and strengthen communities over the last decade – both internationally through our work with the Fair Development Fund and Comic Relief, and in the UK via our Farm Development Groups, such as dairy. We have learned what works and what is of real value to farmers. Starting with tea, we are taking this knowledge to make a further step-change to our sourcing approach by introducing new ways to utilise data and insight to help farmers improve their business performance and the well-being of their workers.
“The business case for the tea pilot is clear. Our farmers will receive a minimum price for their tea and the Social Premium, with added support, skills and resource tailored to their needs and delivered by experts as well as the security of a long-term relationship with us. All underpinned by the highest levels of data, independent audit and evaluation.
“Customers can drink our tea with the peace of mind that comes from knowing it has been sourced to the highest sustainability standards and know that they are helping farmers and communities prosper for many years to come.”
The Fairly Traded pilot and the associated Sainsbury’s Foundation support programmes, will be overseen by a new advisory body which will bring together independent specialists with senior Sainsbury’s colleagues. Independent advisory board members will include leading charities, academic institutions and NGO’s and be independently chaired.
Sainsbury’s will seek to attract further funding from external sources, including existing multi-stakeholder programmes, to extend reach and impact.
Mike Coupe, added: “We don’t pretend to have all the answers – far from it – and that’s why these pilots are about testing and developing new approaches, collaborating with expert partners and listening to our farmers. In this way we can find out what works, and what can be taken to scale and adopted elsewhere, be it internationally or here in the UK, to secure sustainable supply chains that benefit our farmers and their communities and our customers too.”
Austin Changazi, General Manager, Sukambizi Association Trust, Malawi (a Sainsbury’s tea producer), said, “Sainsbury’s has been our friend in need for the past eight years. Their development work with us, through the Fair Development Fund, has improved our product quality and yield and helped us achieve higher incomes. As a result, this has improved our lives – we can now build decent houses, send children to school and buy motorcycles. We wholeheartedly welcome the idea of working with Sainsbury’s on the Fairly Traded initiative.”
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