BUSINESSES ARE being challenged to go even further in supporting farmers - and Compass Group has picked up the gauntlet.
As the fair-trade market continues to grow companies are seeking ways to engage further with the farmers that they are working with as well as meet the growing customer demand for Fairtrade goods.
During Fairtrade Fortnight last year, Compass Group UK & Ireland launched a new industry-leading initiative, a countertop retail range named EATFAIR. This selection of the most popular Fairtrade retail products, initially introduced to 800 Compass sites across the UK, funds EATFAIR foundation projects from every purchase.
For every EATFAIR item sold, Compass donates 5p to EATFAIR projects, which have been carefully selected by Compass to support growers and producers from developing countries in bringing their Fairtrade-certified products to market.
Compass is well on track to embed EATFAIR into its business and will roll out the initiative to over 1,500 sites by the end of 2013. Oliver Cock, the commercial director for Compass Group UK & Ireland, said: “Compass is a proud supporter of Fairtrade and our commitment is to help farmers, workers and their families in developing countries improve their livelihoods and get a fairer deal for their products.
“EATFAIR resonates across every market sector that Compass serves, be that schools, workplaces, sports and leisure venues or hospitals. Supported by a strong humanitarian message, we believe EATFAIRprojects will make a genuine difference to the lives of Fairtrade farmers and their families.”
Compass’s first EATFAIR project is helping farmers in the Semliki co-operative in western Uganda. The co-operative is at the start of its journey and funds from the EATFAIR project will enable the farmers to become providers of Fairtrade Single Origin coffee. By improving the quality of its coffee, the co-operative will be able to command a price premium which will create more sustainable incomes for the farmers and their families in the future.
The team are not just offering technical support – the relationship is two-way, with the Compass team providing valuable insight into the UK market to the Ugandan growers. As well as seeds and tools, farmers are being equipped with expert training, helping them to nourish themselves, their families and their businesses.
Compass recently visited four producer groups in the Semliki co-operative to understand how the equipment for the cupping lab, funded by EATFAIR, will benefit the co-operative. Farmers have been encouraged to conduct first-stage sorting at microstations, which will improve their coffee quality.
The funds for the cupping lab, combined with the recruitment of a localcupping specialist, mean that Compass is involved in helping the co-operative develop from producing only industrial- grade coffee to specialist single-origin coffee.
Compass is working to helping the co-operative gain Fairtrade status by the end of the year. It also has plans to bring the Semliki co-operative’s coffee to its UK customers.
Ashish Deo, the commercial director of the Fairtrade Foundation, said: “In 2013 Fairtrade is challenging businesses to go further in their support for producers. The new EATFAIR range of products from Compass is a great example of an innovative way for a long-term Fairtrade supporter to go beyond the standards.
“I am really pleased to see the combination of higher sales through a widely available dedicated product range and additional contribution to producers’ investment in improving agriculture. This will enable better producer impact and builds on Compass’s continuing efforts to promote Fairtrade.”
￼Compass is the leading supporter of fairtrade in the foodservice industry, achieving a number of industry firsts including swapping to 100% Fairtrade.