Archive for October, 2020

I Stand With Farmers – Our Day of Action in support of Fairtrade farmers

Our campaign to Keep KitKat Fairtrade came to a head on Thursday 1 October when a group of supporters from the York Fair Trade Forum and the National Campaigner Committee assembled outside Nestle’s offices in York to hand in the petition which has amassed over 284,000 signatures. The date was chosen as it marks the start of the cocoa harvest in Cote d’Ivoire.

Social media was already buzzing with people from all around the UK sharing the video of a “found poem” read by a range of Fairtrade supporters to reflect the diversity of the UK’s Fairtrade movement. Based on just some of the comments from people who signed the petition, the video can be seen here:

Watch the video

I awoke on Thursday morning to the news that York Central MP Rachael Maskell – who features in our video – had worked with fellow members of the APPG on Fairtrade Holly Lynch MP, Jason McCartney MP and Patrick Grady MP to take control of the floor of the House of Commons for 4 minutes to promote our petition. The game was afoot.

The skies were blue and the air was clear and crisp as we unfurled our banner and donned face masks printed with the slogan “I Stand With Farmers” and T shirts bearing the Fairtrade mark – which will be conspicuous by its absence from KitKats from now on. Our photographer Danny Lawson arranged us in a socially distanced way and started snapping.

Drivers on the busy A19 tooted their horns in support and eventually a security guard came out to ask if he could help us. He agreed to take the text of the petition from us (we will be sending the official petition to the addressee Nestle Global CEO Ulf Mark Schneider direct to his office in Geneva)

I read out I stand with farmers – poem based on petition comments the “found poem” and after some solo chanting (making sure to be covid safe) we were ready to wrap up the protest. Just then a KitKat branded lorry drove past and the opportunity was too good to miss. We rushed to position ourselves in a perfect spot to get the shot with the lorry in the background.

The Day continued with more and more social media shares and coverage from the BBC website, BBC Radio York and the York Press.

Our efforts were rewarded by a final concession from Nestle, who have agreed to match the Fairtrade minimum price paid to farmers for two years – as detailed in this blog from the Fairtrade Foundation.

The campaign was entitled “Keep KitKat Fairtrade” but in reality I knew when I started it that Nestle were unlikely to reverse their decision. So if that was not to be achieved, we demanded several supplementary concessions from Nestle:

  1. Transparency about the premium paid to farmers. After my meeting with Nestle in July, they announced a clear plan for this. It is less than the Fairtrade premium, but more than they initially planned to pay.
  2. Increased support for farmers in the short term. This has been agreed, with extra support for two years.
  3. Nestle to sit down with the RICE network – farmers’ representatives. They have been in an ongoing dialogue for several weeks now.
  4. To show the groundswell of support for Fairtrade in the UK. This dedicated band of thousands of volunteers have come together to show Nestle that we want our chocolate to be Fairtrade.

Special thanks to the official supporters of the petition: CAFOD, NUS, BAFTS Fair Trade Network UK, Tearfund, Commitment for Life, National Campaigner Committee, Scottish Fair Trade Forum and Fair Trade Wales.

So what now? The farmers remain Fairtrade certified, which means that they can sell their cocoa on Fairtrade terms if a new buyer can be found for next year’s harvest and beyond. This means we in the UK and beyond need to keep choosing Fairtrade chocolate.  Choosing to buy Fairtrade marked chocolate from dedicated Fairtrade brands like Divine chocolate, Seed & Bean, Tonys Chocolonely and own brand Fairtrade chocolate from supermarkets like Co-op, Lidl, Aldi and Waitrose makes all the difference for cocoa farmers. They sell their crop to big brands like Nestle because they are the biggest buyers. Which means we need to work on turning the most ethical brands into the biggest buyers of cocoa.

I Stand With Farmers

Choose Fairtrade

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Posted on October 2nd, 2020 by Fairtrade Yorkshire News