Following her appearance on BBC consumer programme Watchdog last night. Eileen Maybin, head of media for Fairtrade has clarified her stance on the issue of using the Fairtrade logo on some branded chocolate bars, which the show claimed may not contain any Fairtrade ingredients.
The Watchdog feature questioned the use of Coco Beans in bars of Mars Maltesers, Nestle’s KitKat and Cadbury’s Dairy Milk, all of which were accredited by FairTrade in 2009 and carry the logo on their packaging.
Maybin told The Drum that the chocolate industry was not always able to keep Fairtrade cocoa and non Fairtrade cocoa beans separate at every stage of production as they are delivered in bulk by farmers and mixed during the shipping and manufacturing process.
“Rather than not engaging with the chocolate industry and losing Fairtrade sales opportunities for thousands of small farmers, Fairtrade has set up a system to ensure that chocolate manufacturers that want to use the FAIRTRADE Mark must buy the precise amount of cocoa they need from Fairtrade farmers that will be used in their final product,” she added.
“Even if the beans are later mixed with non-Fairtrade beans - as often happens - Fairtrade cocoa farmers still get 100% of the benefits, and the better deal that the FAIRTRADE mark stands for.”
As to the use of the Fairtrade logo on branded packaging, Maybin explained; “We have worked hard on our rules for messaging on packaging to reflect the new system, in line with trading standards and EU Directives.”
A Nestle spokesperson told Watchdog; “Consumers in the UK and Ireland can be absolutely certain that for every 4-Finger KIT KAT they buy, cocoa farmers receive the benefits that come with Fairtrade certification. We know exactly where our Fairtrade cocoa beans come from and KIT KAT has provided more than £1.6 million of Fairtrade premiums to farmers to improve their collective future. This is the better deal that the Fairtrade label promises and delivers.”
They added that the company was also looking at how it could ‘more clearly’ communicate how mass balance worked and the benefits it brought to farmers and their families.