Food for thought

Food for thought

The brunt of climate change is often borne by those who contributed least to it, including many small-scale farmers. Here’s how Fairtrade is working towards a better future for them and the planet

Changing weather patterns like prolonged drought, extreme rain and flooding are bad for us all, but the most affected are those on the front line: farmers. From flower growers in Kenya to coffee producers in Peru, small-scale farmers rely on their farms for their livelihoods. They are among those who have contributed the least to climate change. These same farmers live in locations prone to climate-related disasters and are more likely to earn low incomes —meaning they’re often less able to respond to the climate emergency. This is why Co-op is proud to work with Fairtrade and stand in solidarity with the farmers who grow our food, to build resilience to climate change. 

Mary Kinyua (above), Chair of Fairtrade Africa — and Fairtrade’s representative on the UK Government’s Civil Society & Youth Advisory Council for COP26 (UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties) — stresses the role business has to play: ‘If we are to put global agriculture on a more sustainable path, it will require substantial investment from businesses and governments.’ Mary continues, ‘Farmers and workers cannot afford to foot the bill, and it’s unfair to expect them to — especially when many don’t earn a living wage, due to the chronically low prices they receive for their produce.’

The climate emergency strikes
at the heart of Fairtrade’s mission to support smallholder farmers in low-income countries. Mary Kinyua, Chair of Fairtrade Africa

Working towards fair prices for farmers and workers is at the heart of Fairtrade’s mission. By choosing Fairtrade-certified items, such as chocolate, flowers and tea, shoppers can be sure producers are earning a secure and sustainable livelihood, and that they are signed up to standards that protect the environment. 

By working with Fairtrade, producer communities in Co-op’s supply chain are becoming stronger. Top of page: Cocoa producers at CAYAT co-operative, Ivory Coast. Above, clockwise from top left: Awa Traore is a cocoa producer at CAYAT; Grace Otieno helps grow roses at Flamingo Flowers, Kenya; cocoa producers at SCAANIAS co-operative, Ivory Coast

Farmers must be at the centre of decision making. They know best how climate change is affecting their environment and what action is needed

All Co-op own-brand sugar, cocoa, tea, bananas, African roses and coffee are Fairtrade. We are also the largest seller of Fairtrade wine in the world. Co-op is committed to strengthening producer communities around the world. Through our partnership with The One Foundation, we support water, hygiene and sanitation projects in Fairtrade producer communities across Sub-Saharan Africa. 

A committed ally of Fairtrade for 30 years, we’ve long recognised its importance in tackling climate change. Our partnership with Fairtrade is key to our Ten-point Climate Plan, which will see Co-op reach our target of net zero by 2040.

Mary adds: ‘Over many years Co-op has worked with Fairtrade to provide invaluable support for our producers, including during the Covid-19 pandemic. Its support is also helping Fairtrade producers to withstand and adapt to the climate crisis.’

To help us support Fairtrade, look for the FAIRTRADE Mark next time you shop.

Nyawira Nijraini, coffee producer at Mutira co-operative, Kenya


Rising temperatures mean that coffee production on the slopes of Mount Kenya is moving higher into the cooler climes. Clearing the forest to make way for coffee plantations causes soil degradation and loss of wildlife. It’s estimated that by 2050, the amount of land suitable for growing coffee will have reduced by half. 

The Fairtrade-certified co-operative of Mutira Farmers, who supply Co-op Kenyan Fairtrade Roast & Ground Coffee, 227g, is based here. Fairtrade Africa is aiming to encourage more young people into coffee farming, as well as helping overcome issues caused by climate change. Supported by Co-op, a Fairtrade Africa youth training programme is addressing environmentally friendly farming and distributing more climate-resilient coffee beans. 

Enjoy International Coffee Day on 1 October with a cup of Co-op Fairtrade coffee.