Waitrose’s ethical supplier scheme expands out of Africa for first time

Waitrose is expanding its ethical trading initiative beyond Africa for the first time, with pineapple growers in Costa Rica set to be backed by extra investment from the British retailer.

Costa Rica will become the first nation outside of Africa to join the Waitrose Foundation, which funds community and farming projects across Ghana, Kenya and South Africa. Waitrose wants to expand the initiative to 12 countries by 2020.

As of Friday (16 February), the Waitrose Foundation logo will appear on the retailer’s Costa Rican wholehead pineapples. The Foundation will invest a share of the sales from all fruit sold back into the communities where the pineapple growers live.

Waitrose’s head of sustainability and responsible sourcing Tor Harris said: “‘It’s exciting that more people will benefit from investment in their communities from the Waitrose Foundation. Customers will know when they buy our Costa Rican wholehead pineapples that the workers who grow them are benefitting directly.

‘‘From building schools for the children of farmers in Ghana to healthcare clinics for workers in South Africa the Waitrose Foundation is excited to be expanding these benefits to 12 further countries by 2020. This demonstrates our commitment to treating people in our supply chains fairly and with respect.’’

The Waitrose Foundation was established in 2005 to help improve the lives of the workers and communities that supply to the retailer. Since then, more than £10m has been raised for local initiatives, ranging from health clinics and schools to finance classes.

One of the biggest demands in Costa Rica is for safe and educational crèches for growers to leave their children while they go to work. It is expected that investment into local education will be a big benefit of the Waitrose Foundation.


Last year, Waitrose strengthened its commitment to source Fairtrade tea. All 46 Waitrose own-label tea products are now Fairtrade-certified, after its three Early Grey lines complete the conversion. The retailer currently stocks 250 Fairtrade-certified products, including 100% of its own-label speciality sugars and the majority of its block chocolate.

Fairtrade certification allows farmers to choose how to spend the premium generated – either on business development or community projects such as schools and health clinics.

Matt Mace

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