Starbucks terminates its partnership with Fairtrade U.K.

Starbucks terminates its partnership with Fairtrade U.K.

February 18 - 2022

Coffee Geography Magazine

In a surprise move that shocks many coffee farmers all across Africa, Starbucks announced that it terminated all ties with Fairtrade Foundation in the UK meaning that coffee purchased at its shops across the country will no longer be Fairtrade assured.The Fairtrade symbol and TM has already been removed from Starbucks coffee cups. According to the company’s statement it will use its own standard for ethical supply chains to replace the Fairtrade Foundation’s certification. The partnership between Fairtrade UK and Starbucks has been on practice for the last twelve years as the two entities worked together for common standards. The termination in the joint working relations took effect across UK, Europe, the Middle East and Africa as non-Fairtrade coffee is now being sold in the regions. Under Fairtrade rules, firms must pay farmers a minimum price for goods alongside a Fairtrade Premium, and meet standards that protect workers’ rights and the environment, in order to receive certification.


Starbucks has replaced this Fairtrade certification scheme with its Coffee and Farmer Equity (C.A.F.E) Practices standard developed internally in partnership with Conservation International. It insisted the standard, which has been running since 2004, is equally rigorous. “Developed in collaboration with Conservation International C.A.F.E Practices is a verification program that measures farms against economic, social and environmental criteria, all designed to promote transparent profitable and sustainable coffee growing practices while also protecting the well-being of coffee farmers and workers, their families and their communities,” a spokesperson said. Starbucks said its global partnership with Fairtrade – which was formed in 2000 – remains intact. “We value our longstanding relationship with Fairtrade and the work they do to support small holder farmers and we will continue to purchase Fairtrade coffee globally,” Starbucks announced. Peg Willingham, executive director of Fairtrade America, said: “Starbucks and Fairtrade will continue to partner globally, and the reductions in purchases in the UK will happen over time.” “Coffee remains among our top commodities globally, and as consumers continue to demand offerings backed by rigorous standards, Fairtrade will continue to act on behalf of smallholder farmers so farmers get a fair deal,” she added. It is the most action to depart from Fairtrade UK since Nestlé announced plans to stop buying Fairtrade cocoa and sugar for its KitKat brand in 2020.Fairtrade UK urged Nestlé to reconsider its decision, warning it could “exacerbate the inequalities in the cocoa industry”.