Despite small-scale farmers contributing a third of the global food supply, their work is often undervalued and under paid. Our three guests explain the failings of a commodity market which leaves farmers very often living in poverty. They discuss the tactics needed to improve livelihoods on the ground but also the system change required for a fair and equitable transformation in trade.

Dorothy Shaver, Global Food Sustainability Director Unilever

Dorothy Shaver a Registered Dietitian with eighteen years of cross-food industry leadership spanning roles in food service, healthcare, media, retail, fitness, with her most recent role being Global Food Sustainability Director at Unilever and is a Founding Board Member of Food for Climate League. She led the purpose-driven transformation Unilever’s largest food brand including the creation of the thought leadership piece Future 50 Foods, currently leading Unilever’s food sustainability strategy including the shift to regenerative agriculture.

Nick Hoskyns, Peanut & sesame farmer & ETICO Director

ETICO (Ethical Trading Company Ltd) provides support and finance to small-scale farmers in Latin America.

Beatrix Richards Senior Corporate Engagement Manager, Solidaridad

Solidaridad works to make supply chains more fair and sustainable.

Conversation summary:

  • The volatility of price and why this causes these issues for farmers.
  • The benefits that Fairtrade trading offers farmers.
  • Dorothy explains Unilever’s work with farmers to improve livelihoods, yields and climate resilience.
  • The extent of farmers producing under the poverty line.
  • Since 1995 farmers have had a reducing share of the value of the final product.
  • The likelihood of food security issues if we do not address the imbalance of value in the supply chain. The issues of an ageing farmer population and people leaving the sector are warning signs of future food scarcity.
  • Smallholder farmers make up 30-35% of global food supplies.
  • The current economic systems that businesses operate in don’t support the transformative change required to address the issues. (i.e. maximising GDP).
  • A collaborative approach with NGOs, companies and farmers is needed to make the required change.   Farmers knowledge on climate resilience and productive farming methods need to be shared.
  • Nick talks of his experience in the benefits of involving coffee farmers with product development. 
  • Breatrix explains Solidaridad’s approach – training, diversification, scale, entrepreneurial income.
  • The true price of the cost of commodities is not being paid, such the cost of women’s labour.
  • Farmers need support with access to training, finance, markets and knowledge, and the right governmental structure to support their sector.
  • The need for further financing and government spending on regenerative agriculture.


Fairtrade minimum price

Regenerative agriculture

Intercropping and cover cropping

RSPO credits

Transcript of the podcast