Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Starbucks' policy grinds farmers and ignores Fair Trade guidelines

by Mark Maher '08
Saint Joseph's University

According to their mission statement, Starbucks is committed to "…apply[ing] the highest standards of excellence to the purchasing, roasting and fresh delivery of our coffee." Indeed, Starbucks does appear to apply the highest standards when roasting and delivering their coffee. Unfortunately for their farmers, and for any person with some sense of humanity, Starbucks does not apply these same standards to the purchasing of their coffee.

Of course, if one were to ask Starbucks, you would almost believe that they invented fair trade. According to a leaflet available on their website, Starbucks purchased approximately 11.5 million pounds of fair trade coffee, which accounts for 10 percent of all purchased fair-trade coffee.

First, according to their own statement, companies other than Starbucks purchase 90 percent of all fair trade coffee.

Furthermore, fair-trade coffee farmers only produce around two percent of the world's coffee. Therefore, the majority of the coffee you buy at Starbucks comes from providers who are not fair-trade certified.

Organicconsumers.com reports that Starbucks claims to pay an average of $1.20/lb., fairly close to the minimum fair-trade average of $1.26/lb. At first glance, it appears as though Starbucks is independently promoting fair wages for farmers, without a fair-trade certification.

However, this is an average number, which takes into account both conventional and organic (traditionally higher priced) coffees. Furthermore, Starbucks does not import their coffee. The $1.20/lb. average is paid to the coffee importers, the middlemen.

Realistically, the average actually paid to the farmers actually comes to about $.80, far below the fair-trade minimum.

A more specific example elucidates Starbucks' record even more clearly. According to Oxfam.org, Starbucks charges almost $26/lb. for some of their Ethiopian specialty coffees. However, only about five to ten percent of this price actually goes to the farmers. Ethiopian farmers, very aware of how the global market works, have been campaigning for the right to have their own name attached to the coffee they produce, a move that would give them more leveraging power when selling their coffee. As of yet, Starbucks has not given this right to the farmers.

It is a real shame that a company as large as Starbucks feels the need to pull the wool over its consumers' eyes. Starbucks is nothing without the people who buy their coffee, and it is poor business, in my opinion, for them to mislead those who put food on their plates.

Since Starbucks is apparently unwilling to provide their farmers a fair wage, it is our responsibility as consumers to let them know what we think.

If you think that Starbucks is not living up to the standards that a socially conscious company should, let them know - write letters, call them up. If Starbucks refuses to change, then maybe we should not buy their coffee. There are alternatives here on campus, and elsewhere, that provide fair-trade certified coffee. Starbucks may provide us with coffee, but we provide them with their business.

This was originally posted on February 7, 2007 by the Saint Joseph's University
Campus News Philadephia PA SJUHawknews http://www.sjuhawknews.com/

Commodity Primer - Coffee the Stimulant

The Financial Express - Commodity Watch

What do we know about coffee and what are the popular varieties of coffee?

Coffee is a world famous beverage and is widely drunk in almost every part of the world. There are around 25 varieties of coffee known to the world. Coffe Arabica and Coffea Robusta are the two most commonly cultivated species of coffee widely used throughout the world.

What is the global coffee production per annum? Which are the world’s major producers of coffee?

The world production of coffee is around 6 million tonne per annum. Brazil (33.16%), Columbia (11.65%), Vietnam (10.61%), Indonesia (5.97%), Mexico (4.59%) and India (4.60%) are the world’s major coffee producers contributing to around 70% of the total coffee produced in the world.

Which are the major consumers of coffee in the world?

The US, Canada, Japan. Germany, Italy, UK, Poland and Spain are the major consumers and importers of coffee. India consumes around 30% of its total production. The Indian consumption of coffee is also increasing with time.

Which are the major coffee growing regions in India?

Chikmagalur, Coorg and Hassan in Karnataka, Wayanad, Travancore and Nelliampathy in Kerala, Pulneys, Nilgiris, Shevroys (Salem) and Anamalais (Coimbatore) in Tamil Nadu are considered as the traditional coffee growing regions in India whereas the non-traditional areas include the eastern states of Andhra Pradesh and Orissa .The north-eastern states of Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Tripura, Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh are other coffee growing regions in the country.

What is the market scenario for Indian coffee?

India is the world's fifth largest producer of coffee, producing around 3 lakh tonne annually. Indian coffee is considered to be one of the most stimulating coffee in the world, being mild in nature i.e. having a low acid content. India is the only country, which grows all of its coffee under shade. India currently exports about 70% of its total coffee production to around 44 countries across the globe.

What are the factors affecting the market for coffee?

The size and availability of coffee stocks worldwide, changes in coffee consumption pattern governed by factors such as standard of living and cultural acceptability, availability and prices of coffee substitutes like tea and cocoa are the factors apart from the climatic factors which determines coffee prices.

—Courtesy - MCX Training

URL: http://www.financialexpress.com/fe_full_story.php?content_id=153756