3 November 2022

toom and Fairtrade launch pilot project

The project will increase Fairtrade cuttings at toom

toom is the first retailer in Germany to launch a pilot project with Fairtrade Germany to increase the amount of cuttings featuring the Fairtrade label. With this pioneering step, toom hopes to improve the lives of workers at cuttings farms through the positive impact of Fairtrade. To achieve this goal, the amount of plants sold featuring the Fairtrade label must be increased and various supply chain processes have to be simplified.

Young plants, whether poinsettias, geraniums, or Michaelmas daisies, have to travel long distances before they reach stores in Germany. They are cultivated from cuttings, most of which come from countries in the Global South, which offer the ideal growing conditions. The industry employs thousands of workers. With a poinsettia, for instance, it can take up to 70 weeks between taking the cuttings to growing a finished plant. toom and Fairtrade are launching a new pilot project to improve living conditions for these workers.

More Fairtrade crops, lower production costs, higher premiums

The aim of the joint pilot project between toom and Fairtrade Germany is to increase the Fairtrade premium income of workers in the Global South, reduce costs in the North, and make Fairtrade cuttings a genuine, more sustainable alternative to conventional cuttings.

To achieve this, the pilot project simplifies processes while also adhering to Fairtrade principles. Also helping to reduce costs is the fact that Fairtrade certification is no longer required for the nurseries located in the Global North which finish cultivating the Fairtrade young plants for toom. The plants themselves are already Fairtrade-certified in their country of origin. This step can lead to the mixture of Fairtrade plants with conventional plants in the nurseries. However, measures are taken to ensure that only the plants purchased as cuttings from the farms under Fairtrade conditions are sold as Fairtrade-certified. This is verified by independent certification organisation FLOCERT at the importers and at toom.

toom continues to require its European nurseries to be certified according to Milieu Programma Sierteelt (MPS) or GLOBALG.A.P. as well as the additional GLOBAL G.A.P. GRASP or MPS SQ for social practice. In addition, a peat reduction of at least 30 percent is required for production in Germany and compliance with the REWE Residue Guideline* for ornamental plants.

Improving working and living conditions through Fairtrade

In order to improve the living and working conditions of workers in the global South, Fairtrade expanded its standard for flowers and plants in 2015 to include the category of young plants. Since then, in addition to cut flowers and ready-cultivated plants, young plants or unrooted cuttings can also be Fairtrade-certified.

Certification has many advantages for the workers. These include, for example, fixed employment contracts, maternity protection, protective clothing and training in the safe handling of chemicals. They also benefit from a wage that is at least equal to the lower wage limit prescribed by the Fairtrade standard. In addition, certified farms receive a Fairtrade premium, which farmers and workers can use freely. They can decide together in which projects the premium should be invested.

“We hope to be able to fulfil a number of wishes of the workers with the additional premium income. One of them is the establishment of a day care centre. Many workers are forced to give up work after giving birth because there is no one to take care of their child,” says Roman Girma, crop coordinator at Red Fox, a plant farm participating in the pilot project. “We also want to expand medical care so that the families of the workers can be cared for in the future. So far, only the employees themselves have health insurance through the company-run clinic.”

In addition to the regular Fairtrade premium, toom also pays an extra premium of one cent per Fairtrade plant purchased to the workers at the cuttings farms via the young plant company. This is roughly equivalent to doubling the Fairtrade premium payment. In order to label those plants that are traded through the pilot project, Fairtrade is introducing a new, separate pilot label. The first poinsettias labelled in this way will be available at toom Baumarkt from November 2022.

*The REWE residue guide tightens the legal requirements for the use of plant protection products on ornamental plants.

About toom

toom is one of the leading DIY brands in Germany, boasting more than 300 stores in its portfolio (toom Baumarkt, B1 Discount Baumarkt and Klee garden centres), 18,800 employees and gross sales of 3.1 billion euros. The company is part of the REWE Group, one of the leading trade and tourism groups in Germany and Europe. In 2022, the REWE Group generated a total external turnover of 84,4 billion euros and has more than 380,000 employees in 21 European countries. toom has held ‘family-friendly audit’ certification since 2016. The ‘family-friendly audit’ scheme is run by the charitable Hertie Foundation, and certification demonstrates toom’s credentials as an innovative employer that supports its employees through the challenges associated with the different stages of their lives.

Daria Ezazi
Head of Corporate Communications at
toom Baumarkt