We have seen the Fairtrade stamp on products since 1994. It is endorsed by some of the UK’s biggest names from Gregg’s to John Lewis. However, in recent years, some brands and retailers have moved away from Fairtrade in favour of their own standards.

So what other standards are out there?


In 2012, Mondelēz (which owns well-known brands including Cadbury, Daim, Milka, and Green & Black’s) launched its own sustainability scheme under the name Cocoa Life. Whilst some Mondelēz brands (for example Cadbury’s) were previously Fairtrade certified, Mondelēz wanted to be able to work directly with farmers as a partner for all of its chocolate brands.

As a major cocoa buyer, Mondelēz can reach more producers through introducing its own sustainability programme than it could have done through Fairtrade. The key areas of focus for Cocoa Life are:

  • Ensuring sustainable cocoa farming businesses by improving productivity to increase incomes;
  • Empowering cocoa communities to lead their own development and improve their livelihoods through entrepreneurship; and
  • Conserving and restoring forest where cocoa is grown.

Cocoa Life also remains in close partnership with Fairtrade to ensure cocoa farmers earn a fair wage. Additionally, climate change resilience and combatting deforestation are big focuses of the Cocoa Life programme. Through the standard, Mondelēz invests in farmer training and adoption of good agricultural practices such as agroforestry, mobilising communities to protect forests, and planting trees.


Another business that has launched its own programme for fair trade is Sainsbury’sFairly Traded was launched in 2017 as a pilot project focused on tea. Like Mondelēz, Sainsbury’s wanted to use the scale of their business to have a bigger impact by working directly with farmers growing tea for their own supply chains.

This programme focuses on driving progress in the social, economic and environmental sustainability of farmers, workers and their communities. The programme aims to support farmers in the face of challenges such as climate change, resource constraints and shifts in consumer demand. Similarly to Fairtrade, Producer Groups accrue a premium that goes beyond the minimum price that producers are guaranteed, ensuring their prices remain above market price.

This premium is generated according to the volume of tea Sainsbury’s buys from each group. It is used to fund projects which support farmers, workers and their communities.

What are the sustainability implications?

Trading fairly is vital for sustainability. Ensuring farmers are receiving a fair wage reduces their vulnerability to price volatility, which in turn can result in better cash flow and greater access to credit. This can also improve food security as they have the money required to buy food and invest in growing new crops.

Standards that promote training for farmers can help them switch to good agricultural practices which encourage environmentally sustainable production. These practices can also help farmers adapt to climate change and mitigate against its impact, as well as reduce their own greenhouse gas emissions.

By buying “fairly” traded products you are helping support sustainable food production, in turn supporting practices reducing the impacts of climate change. Look out for the Fairtrade label and other programmes supporting fair trading when making food choices. You can find out more about Fairtrade in our previous article and on the Fairtrade website.

How ADAS can help you source responsibly 

The Sustainable Food and Farming team provide a range of services to help businesses connect with their agricultural raw material supply chains to understand key commodity risks, both now and in the future.

Backed up by the breadth of expertise in ADAS, we bring expert knowledge of the drivers of risks such as human rights, environmental damage, farming practices and ethical considerations.

ADAS helps businesses develop and implement practical risk management strategies based on our specialist knowledge of agricultural supply chains.

We believe that effectively managing risk doesn’t need to be costly, and our approach allows prioritisation of action and increases the capacity of suppliers to manage risks.

For more information on how ADAS can help ensure the responsible sourcing of materials, contact Emily Mason on +44 (0)1954 268305.