Global food and beverage companies are placing greater emphasis than ever before on setting and achieving sustainable and ethical supply chain goals. This report examines what this means for the future of sustainable trade and farming initiatives. Do alternative schemes muddy the water, or provide innovative solutions that can correspond more closely with the goals of global companies?
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The announcement by Mondelez in late 2015 detailing its planned expansion of Cocoa Life sparked an uncertainty in the market about the ramifications this could have on the Fairtrade and other traditional standards going forward. A domino effect could undermine Fairtrade greatly.
Boasting a commitment to 100% sustainable sourcing in the form of goals is fast becoming essential for global players that find the spotlight on supply chains ever intensifying. What many of the goals being made lack is specificity, which is ultimately worrying for the Fairtrades, Rainforest Alliances and UTZs of theworld.
For major schemes to survive, they must adapt. While some industry voices might be critical and question the tangible impact that these initiatives have on farmers on the ground, for consumers they remain the gold standard in terms of being the most recognisable stamp of an ethical supply chain in operation today.
In 2017, there was further reason for Fairtrade to worry, as UK retailer J Sainsbury looked to follow a new route to sustainable ethical sourcing. This plan was eventually abandoned after significant backlash from various groups.
Alternative routes may have a long way to go in terms of reaching the same levels of consumer recognition enjoyed by the big three certifiers, but through innovative approaches they appear to be gaining ground.
In January 2014, Fairtrade introduced the sourcing programme. Running in parallel with the existing Fairtrade mark, the Fairtrade sourcing programme offered a more malleable method of sustainably-sourced ingredients, allowing manufacturers to source specific ingredients as Fairtrade-certified and still benefit from a less prominent claim.