UK supermarket woos African suppliers

24 February 2010

24 February 2010 | Gareth Mytton 

Sainsbury’s strengthened its relations with African growers and suppliers with a series of events earlier this month.

Senior executives from the supermarket chain held talks in Kenya and South Africa.

At two-day events in Nairobi and Cape Town speakers – including trading director Mike Coupe, and Judith Batchelar, director of Sainsbury’s brand – met vendors to discuss food security, Fairtrade and sustainability.

The events were followed by a UK conference last week opened by Sainsbury’s chief executive Justin King.

Liz Jarman, head of product development for grocery and head of Fairtrade at the retailer, said: “These events have helped to bring us closer to our African growers and suppliers and we in turn have given them a greater understanding of the UK grocery market.”

Fairtrade agreements guarantee vendors a minimum price for their products. They earn premiums on various products when the market price rises above this. For example, they receive a $0.10/lb (£0.06) premium when coffee prices exceed market rates, $0.50/kg (£0.32) for tea and $1 (£0.64) for a box of bananas.

Sainsbury’s reported sales of Fairtrade goods had reached £218 million in the past 12 months. According to the Fairtrade Foundation, this has generated a “premium” of $16 million for suppliers.

Supermarkets were in talks with the Fairtrade Foundation regarding responsible cotton sourcing ahead of Fairtrade Fortnight in the UK, which began this week.

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