Advertising authority tells Sainsbury’s to be clear on own fair trade scheme

Sainsbury's fairtrade

Sainsbury’s has been told by the country’s peak advertising body that it must be clear its own Fairly Traded brand is separate to the Fairtrade scheme after a complaint that it was misleading shoppers.

Last summer Sainsbury’s, the UK’s biggest Fairtrade retailer, set up its own Fairly Traded brand for tea.

The move prompted 40 cross party MPs, alongside shareholders, NGOs and an 85,000-signature petition to condemn the move and urged the UK‘s second largest grocer to stick with Fairtrade.

The overarching argument that was Sainsbury’s new Fairly Traded scheme undermined Fairtrade.

Recently, Labour MP Stella Creasy challenged whether the claim “Fairly Traded” on the Sainsbury’s website misleadingly suggested a connection to the Fairtrade scheme.

Sainsbury’s said Fairtrade was “not bringing as much benefit to farmers as it could” and stressed that the ad did not suggest a connection to the Fairtrade scheme, and that they never claimed their own scheme was linked to the Fairtrade Foundation or Fairtrade International.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has now said the Fairtrade brand and scheme run by the Fairtrade Foundation was the most well-known fair trade scheme, whereas consumers might not know about the existence of other, similar schemes.

“We considered the fact that their own-brand products using two different fair trade schemes was likely to cause confusion for consumers, who might assume that the packaging was using ‘Fairly Traded’ as a descriptive term to convey that it was part of the official Fairtrade scheme rather than that ‘Fairly Traded’ was itself the name of a separate scheme run by Sainsbury’s,” the ASA said.

“Because we considered the ad did not make sufficiently clear that ‘Fairly Traded’ related to a separate scheme run by Sainsbury’s, we concluded that the ad was misleading.”

A Sainsbury’s spokeswoman said: “We’re pleased the ASA recognises the high ethical standards of our Fairly Traded tea pilot.

“We note their comments about the online advert and this has been updated accordingly.”

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