Sainsbury’s launches Rwandan ‘women’s coffee’ in UK Parliament

Kopakama Ejo Heza Fairtrade ground coffee will form part of Sainsbury's Taste the Difference range

UK retailer Sainsbury’s launched the UK’s first mainstream coffee ‘grown by women’ at a tasting event in the nation’s parliament last week.

Sainsbury’s said the Kopakama Ejo Heza Fairtrade ground coffee will carry a price premium to support women growers but is fully traceable – many of the co-operative’s 247 members lost husbands due to the 1994 Tutsi genocide in Rwanda.

The coffee stems from a development partnership between ethical trading organization Twin and roasters Finlays – this saw Sainsbury’s launch the UK’s first single-origin coffee from the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2013.

After they struggled to make a living when the violence ended, the co-operative in the west of the country bought a communal farm and coffee trees before inviting women without land to join.

Suppliers of coffee should value women suppliers – Twin

Sainsbury’s said the co-operative’s first harvest has gone into the coffee, launched in the House of Commons just ahead of International Women’s Day on March 8, which now forms part of the retailer’s private label ‘Taste the Difference’ range.

Claiming to be the largest Fairtrade retailer in the world, Sainsbury’s said that money spent on the coffee would help members of the Kopakama co-operative.

“Sainsbury’s works hard to identify and create opportunities for organizations such as the Kopakama co-operative and give them access to the high street,” the retailer said.

Nicolas Mounard, MD of Twin, said: “In coffee, women tend to take the lead in fermenting and drying the beans, where taste and quality can be determined.

“Any business interested in securing a consistent supply of quality coffee should therefore value and support women suppliers. Women’s Coffee gives visibility to these often overlooked main characters, giving an enormous boost to their sense of pride in their work,” he added.

'100% of our roast and ground coffee is Fairtrade'

We asked Sainsbury’s whether it thought that mainstream consumers were increasingly bothered by the origins of commodity product such as coffee. Or is the willingness to pay a premium confined to higher spending consumers or true coffee devotees?

Also, did the retailer have any further plans to add more coffees like this to its range, and would it continue to stock this coffee in future – will it become a fixture in your range? Finally, since - aside from the coffee sold in cafes - not all Sainsbury's coffee is Fairtrade, does the retailer have any target on this front?

A Sainsbury's spokeswoman told "We do not have any research at the moment on this. 100% of our roast and ground coffee is Fairtrade as well as our cafes as you mentioned."

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