NESTLE, the world's largest food company, is risking the livelihoods of poor cocoa farmers by ending Kit Kat's association with Fairtrade, a Newport MP has warned.

The Swiss-owned food giant plans to make Kit Kats using cocoa from Rainforest Alliance-certified farmers, rather than from Fairtrade farmers, from October.

Newport West MP Ruth Jones is part of a Westminster group which said the move would hurt farmers in Cote d'Ivoire (Ivory Coast), who stand to earn less for their cocoa.


Ms Jones is a member of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Fairtrade. The group said Nestle's decision would put some of the world’s poorest cocoa farmers and workers’ livelihoods at risk, at a time when the coronavirus pandemic meant they could least afford it.

The group of MPs said farmers would receive $180 for a tonne of cocoa from October, rather than the $240 Fairtrade price (both sums are paid on top of the market price).

The MPs are also concerned the farmers will lose full control over two-thirds of the money they will be paid from October onwards.

The Fairtrade Foundation works with companies to improve the rights and wages of disadvantaged farmers and workers in food-producing countries. It then certifies products which meet its criteria, allowing companies to market them as a more ethical consumer choice.

Michael Gidney, the boss of Fairtrade said Nestle’s decision to cut its 10-year association with the non-profit organisation was “profoundly disappointing”.

And Ms Jones said she feared the decision would knock consumers.

"British shoppers have grown used to Kit Kats guaranteeing equity and prosperity for the producers who create the chocolate that we love," she said. "I hope Nestle’s management will take the opportunity to pause and think again, especially given the global economic uncertainty caused by the coronavirus pandemic."

Nestle said the switch would "have an impact on some farmers" but said the decision was about sustainability, not about saving money.

“Our expanded partnership with the Rainforest Alliance underlines our commitment to sustainable cocoa sourcing throughout our global supply chain," Nestle's global technical manager Simon Billington said at the time the switch was announced.

“Our successful partnership with Fairtrade is ending as we harmonise our certification for sustainable sourcing internationally," he added. “The Rainforest Alliance has significant experience working with cocoa farmers in understanding and implementing robust sustainability criteria that drives positive change, and we look forward to deepening our collaboration in the coming years.”

Nestle said it would also invest in schemes to support farmers and communities, including £1 million to improve incomes and a further £500,000 on community projects.

Additional reporting by PA.