Nestlé UK and Ireland has announced that its KitKat brand will source Rainforest Alliance Certified cocoa from October 2020, in the process abandoning its 10-year involvement with the Fairtrade label.
Michael Gidney, chief executive of the Fairtrade Foundation, called the decision “profoundly disappointing” and urged Nestlé to think again and “keep KitKat Fairtrade”.
In a statement, the Fairtrade Foundation said the move would mean a loss of almost £2 million (£1.95 million) in Fairtrade Premium each year for co-operatives in Côte d’Ivoire, Fiji and Malawi, representing 27,000 small scale producers – income, it says, that is a “real lifeline for some of the world’s poorest farmers”.
The organisation says Nestlé’s decision could not have come at a worse time. The Covid-19 crisis has created huge disruption to income for many of the world’s poorest farmers and smallholders. Amid the disruption, the Fairtrade premium has helped Fairtrade scheme farmers protect their income and enabled them to buy vital sanitation products and PPE.
Writing on behalf of Ivorian cocoa farmers, Atse Ossey Francis, chairman of the board of directors of the Ivorian Fair Trade Network, said: ‘It is with deep regret and deep concern that we have learned that after proudly producing cocoa for KitKat in the UK for a decade, small cocoa farmers in Côte d’Ivoire will no longer enjoy the benefits of selling their cocoa on Fairtrade terms. Nestlé is one of the leading buyers of Fairtrade certified cocoa through its KitKat brand and we are grateful for all this decade of partnership where we have contributed to the success of Nestlé. A non-Fairtrade trade relationship means regression and continued poverty”.
But Nestlé said that the development formed part of a ‘harmonisation” of certification of its confectionery products, adding that it would “provide financial support to enable Fairtrade farmers to certify their farms to the Rainforest Alliance Sustainable Agriculture Standard as well if they wish”.
Simon Billington, global technical manager for Nestlé Confectionery said: “Our expanded partnership with the Rainforest Alliance underlines our commitment to sustainable cocoa sourcing throughout our global supply chain.
“We are aware that the move will have an impact on some farmers, and we are working hard to mitigate this. Nestlé will be maintaining the same level of cocoa spend for the 2020-21 season. We will be investing in a series of initiatives to support farmers and our cocoa growing communities over the next two years, including £1 million to develop an industry-first living income pilot and a further £500,000 on community projects.”