When York Fair Trade Forum’s own Joanna Pollard heard the news that KitKats were no longer going to be Fairtrade, she was determined to fight Nestlé’s decision. Joanna, who is also co-ordinator of Fairtrade Yorkshire, organised a petition which grew beyond her wildest dreams. And on Thursday 1st October – the day KitKat’s Fairtrade certification officially ran out – five campaigners handed in the 283 854 signatures at Nestlé’s York factory, where one billion KitKats are produced every year. Signatories included a range of supportive MPs, including Rachael Maskell whose York Central constituency is home to the Nestlé factory and Holly Lynch, Chair of the Fairtrade All Party Parliamentary Group.
Tens of thousands of extremely vulnerable cocoa farmers will no longer receive around £1.37 million of Fairtrade Premium payments every year, and will have less control over how they spend their money under the new deal they have been offered. Sugar farmers will lose over £500,000 of annual Fairtrade Premium payments. Meanwhile, Nestlé turned a profit of over $10 billion globally last year.
Joanna explained that she started her petition because she knew Nestlé’s decision would devastate thousands of farmers: “Under the Fairtrade system they have a seat at the table and make their own decisions about where their money is spent. The farmers I’ve spoken to feel that selling their crop on Fairtrade terms is vital for their communities. I’ve been overwhelmed by the support the petition has had from almost 300,000 people all over the world, and reading their reasons for signing it’s clear that they want to take a stand in support of farmers.” It’s particularly cruel that this is happening in the middle of a global crisis.
October marks the official start of the cocoa harvest in Cote d’Ivoire, when farmers will begin to process their cocoa pods for export, this time not on Fairtrade terms. Joanna has managed to speak privately with Nestlé representatives about how farmers are going to lose out from their decision. “They haven’t listened, and that’s why I’m presenting this petition, to tell the company that we are going to keep standing with farmers, and call on everyone to choose chocolate with the Fairtrade Mark.”
In 2019, UK shoppers helped generate over £30 million in Premium for Fairtrade producers to boost local economies and improve community services in the Global South, and Fairtrade cocoa sales grew by 23%. This is thanks to companies who have increased their sourcing of Fairtrade cocoa over the past few years, and socially-conscious consumers who choose to buy Fairtrade chocolate.