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Ethical retailer of the week: Cafédirect



As the UK’s largest 100% Fairtrade hot drinks company, Cafédirect is committed to ensure that its products are sustainable and benefit the growers.

The company was created in 1989, during the global collapse in coffee prices, thanks to the joint efforts of Oxfam, Traidcraft, Twin Trading and Equal Exchange Trading. Three coffee producers from Peru, Costa Rica and Mexico sent coffee beans to the UK, where these were roasted and sold in churches fairs and charity stalls.

Three years later, Cafédirect became the first British coffee company to get the Fairtrade mark by the newborn Fairtrade Foundation.

The company reinvests at last a third of its profits – about £13m –through the Cafédirect Producers’ Foundation for projects aimed at improve the lives of people in the growers’ communities. Two growers sit on the board, while 75% of producer partners have shares in the business. Therefore, producers play a crucial role in the decisions of the company.

Cafédirect is not only a Fairtrade brand. It also focuses on reducing the environmental footprint of its product, making 100% of its packaging easily recyclable or compostable and improving energy and resource efficiency through the Courtauld Commitment 2 deal.

In order to do so, from 2013 Cafédirect has decided to integrate its environmental and social impact strategy into the general business strategy, instead of keeping it separate. This move was in line with the efforts by the company to make its products more sustainable, and act towards climate change adaptation strategies for farmers.