Marks & Spencer (M&S) has become the first UK retailer to stock Fairtrade Foundation-certified vegetables, with the launch of Fairtrade green beans flown in from Kenya, the Guardian has reported.
According to M&S, this product will be swiftly followed by other Kenyan products, including mange tout, snow peas, sugarsnap peas and garden peas.
The move has become possible by the extension of new Fairtrade standards for vegetables, which now allow small-scale growers to export via larger Fairtrade-certified farms.
The beans are cultivated by 34 grower groups in Mweiga and Meru, before being sold to Homegrown Kenya Ltd, a Fairtrade-certified plantation.
Harriet Lamb, executive director of the Fairtrade Foundation, commented: "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."
In its green strategy, dubbed Plan A, M&S committed itself to increase the number of Fairtrade products it sold. Last year, sales of Fairtrade products rose by 40 per cent at the retailer, which now sells over 300 items of Fairtrade food, drink and flowers.
Another UK retailer, Sainsbury's, is reportedly set to offer Fairtrade green beans in the next few weeks.