The Co-operative Food claims to be introducing the world’s first fairly-traded own-brand rubber gloves, as it becomes the first supermarket to switch its range to fair trade sourcing.
Launching into selected stores nationwide throughout February 2014, the household gloves are made from fairly-traded rubber from small holder farmers in Sri Lanka.
Rubber is a mass industry in Sri Lanka, where rubber is tapped from trees from vast plantations owned by multinational companies. However, working together with Traidcraft, the UK’s leading fair trade organisation, The Co-operative has created an opportunity for these own-brand products to be supplied by a small community of independent rubber farmers who have their own farms and rely on the trees for their livelihoods.
The 450 latex farmers come from Monaragala, one of Sri Lanka’s poorest rural areas and they are members of the Firstlight co-operative. Traidcraft has developed a working model which means that the latex collected by the farmers is sold to a single manufacturer at a fair price. This fairly-traded latex also generates a premium and the farmers work as a democratic organisation to decide how this is best used for the benefit of the community.
Brad Hill, Fairtrade strategic development manager for The Co-operative, said: “The Co-operative has pioneered Fairtrade in the UK and occasionally, we see an opportunity to deliver benefits to farmers in categories where the international FAIRTRADE Mark does not operate. Rubber is one such area, and – working once again with Traidcraft – a meaningful model for fair trading has been created for us. The Traidcraft endorsement is an independent guarantee to our customers that the farmers will enjoy benefits, including support for democratic development and a premium for social investment.
“Back in 2001, we launched the UK’s first fairly-traded wine from Chile with Traidcraft – which then went on to become Fairtrade-certified, and have since also brought to market fairly-traded charcoal from Namibia and coffins from Bangladesh through our Funeralcare business.”
The Co-operative has championed Fairtrade since its inception, and boasts many “Fairtrade firsts”. The convenience retailer was the first to introduce Fairtrade bananas to the UK, and has continued to build on this leading approach, now supporting producers with benefits above and beyond what the Fairtrade premium delivers alone. It still remains the only supermarket in the UK to have converted all of its own-brand coffee, cotton wool and block chocolate to Fairtrade.
The Co-operative Fairly Traded Rubber Gloves (in small, medium and large) will be priced at £1.89. For further information on The Co-operative’s Fairtrade products, ethical policies and work beyond Fairtrade, shoppers can visitwww.co-operativefood.co.uk/