Food and beverage corporation Nestlé has announced that it is to launch a Fairtrade certified coffee in a new sustainability initiative for smallholder coffee farmers.

The new brand, Nescafé Partners Blend, is a high quality, soluble, freeze-dried instant coffee, the company says. It will bear the Fairtrade stamp which consumers recognise as independent evidence that farmers have been given a fair price for their produce. It will be available in the UK from mid-October.

"Nestlé's long term commitment is to develop sustainable agricultural practices in order to help alleviate hardship and poverty among small coffee farmers," said Alastair Sykes, CEO of Nestlé UK and Ireland. "Increasingly our consumers expect us to bring this commitment to social responsibility alive in our brands and show them how farmers can be helped to have a better life. This means that we need to ensure that farmers in the developing world not only receive a fair price for their coffee, but that their sources of income are developed to support their families into the future in a manner that respects their lands and communities. These are issues that concern the consumer and which have led to increasing demand for Fairtrade products. We are therefore delighted to offer consumers a product carrying the approved Fairtrade mark."

The Fairtrade Foundation was pleased that the world's largest direct buyer of coffee was participating in the project. "This is a turning point for Fairtrade in the UK - the first time that one of the four major coffee roasters has taken its first step in response to rapidly growing consumer demand for products independently certified by the Fairtrade Mark," said the foundation's executive director Harriet Lamb.

"Our label is increasingly trusted by the public as the only independent guarantee that disadvantaged producers in developing countries have received a better deal. We expect the addition of Nescafé Partners Blend to bring a new wave of coffee drinkers to Fairtrade, bringing more opportunities to more farmers in more countries."