NEW REPORT QUESTIONS FAIR TRADE COFFEE’S CORPORATE SUCCESS
Contact: Eric Holt-Gimenez, Executive Director
Food First/Institute for Food and Development Policy
e-mail: eholtgim (at) foodfirst.org
Phone: 510-654-4400 ext 227
Oakland, Ca -- 14 November 2007 – Fair Trade Certified coffee is selling better than ever: in 2005, more than $500 million in fair trade coffee was sold, up exponentially from $50 million in 2000. Most of this growth comes from big corporate players like Starbucks, McDonalds, Dunk’n Doughnuts, Costco, and Nestle entering the Fair Trade market. An explosion in Fair Trade sales is great for the world’s poverty-stricken coffee farmers, right? In a new investigative report entitled Fair To The Last Drop: Corporate Challenges to Fair Trade, Food First takes a deeper look at what Fair Trade’s corporate success means for coffee farmers.
It turns out that big sales in the United States don’t necessarily translate to better education, health care, and environmental preservation in coffee growing communities. Food First cites new research in coffee producing regions, along with reports by farmer’s unions and interviews with coffee cooperative leaders to show that Fair Trade doesn’t always live up to its claims.
The report draws a distinction between corporate Fair Trade that meets the minimum requirements for certification (now popular with big corporate Fair Trade players), and movement Fair Trade that is rooted in farmer-lead movements for social justice and solidarity between coffee producers and coffee consumers. Many farmers see the corporate style bare-minimum fair trade as just a little bit less unfair than selling coffee on the open market- still not enough to pay for better education, health care, environmental conservation, or even to keep growing coffee. In contrast, the many Fair Trade movement companies and organizations return more of the consumer’s money to the farmers and their communities, make a long-term commitment to coffee producing communities, both to buy their coffee and to cooperate on community development projects, and practice transparency with both farmers and consumers. The report highlights some of the most innovative and important examples of movement companies in the report.
Fair To The Last Drop: Corperate Challenges to Fair Trade by Eric Holt-Gimenez, Ian Bailey and Devon Sampson is available online at the Food First website: