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Stellar reconciles differences with Fairtrade Foundation

Published:  19 July, 2011

South African producer Stellar Winery has buried the hatchet with the Fairtrade Foundation, after announcing it was moving to an alternative accrediting body.

Last week Stellar told Harpers it had decided to move to the Fair For Life system because the FLO (the UK's Fairtrade Foundation parent company) accreditation was proving costly and inflexible.

However a statement from FLO said that Stellar had been decertified after "fundamental breaches" of its standards.

Lee Griffin, Stellar's brand and marketing director, described FLO's initial statement as "shocking" given the organisations were involved in a legal dispute. She said Stellar's breaches centred around a "trading issue" and had nothing to do with "the high standards we set ourselves for social accountability, environmental responsibility and community relations".

However Fairtrade International and Stellar appear to have reconciled their differences, and on July 13 an agreement was reached between them to "investigate ways for Stellar to remain within the FLO Fairtrade system and to resolve outstanding issues".

Griffin said that once arrangements were finalised, the winery would hold two certifications, Fair For Life and Fairtrade. She said it would not display both logos on the bottles, but would allow its customers to choose which labels they prefer.

Griffin added that having both would not mean it would pay double, which could impinge on the premiums that workers receive, but rather that each ethical organisation would pay its premiums separately. She insisted that workers would be better off.

A statement from the Fairtrade Foundation said: "We were always hoping that Stellar would re-enter the Fairtrade system as the improvements the workers, Stellar and the Fairtrade system have brought about together in the community has been so important and inspirational."