Navigating corporate partnerships

Fairtrade works with many retailers and manufacturers on projects that mitigate some human right or environmental problem in a specific region or commodity. It’s a way for businesses to take further responsibility for human rights impacts in their supply chains and for Fairtrade to increase its impact.

For example, Fairtrade and the German retailer ALDI SÜD partner to improve conditions with the Honduran Fairtrade smallholder coffee organisations, from which the retailer sources its store brand coffee.

The partnership has brought many positive impacts for farmers and new knowledge about the challenges of coffee production to ALDI SÜD staff.

Commitment on one project obviously doesn’t erase challenges elsewhere. For instance ALDI, which accepted a Fairtrade award for its commitments in 2018, has recently come under fire for driving conventional banana prices down. Fairtrade has joined producer associations and others in calling for changes in the retailer’s negotiating tactics.

Fairtrade is currently reviewing its corporate partnership guidelines to ensure companies’ values and practices are aligned with the network’s.

“The UNGPs envision a continuous process to understand and address human rights impacts,” reminds Tytti Nahi, Fairtrade’s Lead on Business and Human Rights. “Similarly, Fairtrade doesn’t expect its corporate partners to be perfect. But the strive for continuous improvement is crucial.”

“Ideally, Fairtrade partnerships would yield understanding and commitment that fosters responsible business conduct on every product – including those without certification label,” Nahi continues