Marks & Spencer to sell Fairtrade vegetables

M&S becomes the first UK retailer to stock Fairtrade-certified vegetables with green beans from Kenya first to go on sale

UK sales of Fairtrade products were up 12% in 2009 ... green beans from Kenya. Photograph: Wendy Stone/Corbis

Marks & Spencer became the first UK retailer to launch Fairtrade Foundation certified vegetables" href="http://www.fairtra..., after two years of negotiations with the
certifying body.

As well as helping consumers ease their consciences, the retailer says the move will create new opportunities to invest in community projects for hundreds of small farmers in More from on Kenya" href="

The first vegetables to go on sale will be green beans, although M&S hopes these will be swiftly followed by other varieties of beans and fresh peas including mangetout, snow peas, sugarsnap and garden peas, all from Kenya. It
already sells Fairtrade avocados (strictly defined as fruit) and

The beans will be among the 1% of Fairtrade products, including flowers, which are flown rather than shipped, to preserve freshness.

The move has been made possible by the extension of new Fairtrade standards for vegetables to include small-scale growers who can
only access export markets by selling their crops via larger plantations. The
new standards allow these growers to trade via larger Fairtrade-certified

Sainsbury's will also be offering Fairtrade green beans in a few weeks, having used funds from its Sainsbury's Fair Development Fund" href=" to develop the new standard. Waitrose sells green beans from Kenya, and although they are not Fairtrade-certified, the retailer
offers financial incentives to farmers through the Waitrose Foundation" href="

Harriet Lamb, executive director of the Fairtrade Foundation, said: "This product will help small-scale farmers who are currently selling directly to a plantation, to make the leap of becoming producer organisations, selling on in
their own right under Fairtrade terms. In the long term, they and their families
and communities will directly benefit from the Fairtrade Premium, to invest in
community development projects."

The first beans to the UK will come from 34 groups of growers from Mweiga and Meru. They sell to Homegrown Kenya Ltd, a Fairtrade-certified plantation, who buy in vegetables from small-scale farmers from 10 areas located in the higher
rainfall areas of Kenya.

The farmers will decide democratically how to invest the premium. Plans, they say, include building a local secondary school and constructing a clinic to improve access to medical treatment. Water conservation projects are also
planned, including improved irrigation schemes to reduce waste; replacing water
channels with pipes; and digging water pans to collect rainwater and runoff from
the fields.

As part of M&S's green strategy, Plan A, the retailer has said it will increase the amount of
Fairtrade products it sells. Last year, sales of Fairtrade products increased by
40% at M&S, and the retailer now sells more than 300 different items of
Fairtrade More from on Food" href=", drink and flowers.
Total UK sales of Fairtrade products were up 12% in 2009" href="htt..., making the market worth

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