Waitrose switches own label speciality baking sugars to Fairtrade

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Waitrose has announced that its entire range of own-label speciality baking sugars has been switched to Fairtrade, with small-scale farmers in Mauritius set to benefit from every bag that is sold.

The supermarket offers seven own-label speciality sugars, ranging from golden caster sugar through to dark brown muscovado sugar. These types of sugar are frequently used in baking because of the depth of flavour that they deliver, and they are produced from sugar cane, which is grown in developing countries.

Waitrose has worked with its farmers and cooperatives in Mauritius for many years and will now be buying on Fairtrade terms. Through Fairtrade certification, these farmers have been supported to develop democratically-run organisations and to minimise their impact on the environment. For every tonne of sugar they sell on Fairtrade terms, they earn a $60 premium that can be invested as the farmers choose, in their businesses or social projects that will benefit their community.

It is estimated that the Waitrose switch will generate in the region of $115,000 in Fairtrade Premium in the first year alone. In the past, sugar cane co-operatives in Mauritius have invested their Fairtrade Premium in a range of projects including new farm machinery, protective equipment for workers handling chemicals, and to fund school fees and materials for farmers’ children. The price Waitrose customers pay for sugar won’t be affected because of this.

In response to the news that Waitrose would be sourcing sugar from his co-operative, Sen, a 53 year-old Mauritian farmer of three hectares, said: “I would like to thank all the people who buy Fairtrade products and I would ask them to encourage others to buy Fairtrade, because they are helping the vulnerable small farmers and their communities.”

Waitrose’s responsible sourcing co-ordinator, Amali Bunter, said: “We firmly believe in the value of building long-lasting relationships that benefit our suppliers and our customers and we’re proud supporters of Fairtrade. Our producers in the Mauritius do an incredible job and their Fairtrade certification means they receive structured support to invest in their businesses, communities and workers.”

Euan Venters, commercial director at Fairtrade Foundation, said: “Waitrose’s decision to switch their speciality sugars to Fairtrade is very welcome news for Mauritian sugar cane farmers and workers, as well as their families and communities, who are supported by Fairtrade to work towards a more sustainable future. An upcoming change to the EU’s rules on domestic sugar beet production means that sugar cane farmers in African, Caribbean and Pacific countries are currently facing uncertain times, so it’s fantastic to see Waitrose making this commitment – which will make life a little bit sweeter for Mauritian sugar farmers. ”