What Has Fair Trade Coffee Spawned?

You’ve probably heard of Fair Trade Coffee over the last few years. I think it has become popular due to documentaries spreading the idea that the coffee grower makes next to nothing in the production of this crop. If you haven’t heard of fair trade the idea is simple. We in the rich west will pay a little more for coffee in order to give a fairer wage to the growers.

I’m certain that the fair trade movement has made an impression on the big coffee companies. Recent advertising has associated Nabob with The Rainforest Alliance. Being the product of a for profit company, the deal isn’t as good for the growers as Fair Trade. Nabob has only committed itself to buying 30% Rainforest Alliance coffee.

So on one hand we have fair trade coffee by goody goods and on the other hand we have a capitalist company concerned with profit. Now don’t get me wrong, at one point I might have sided with Nabob, especially if their product ended up being cheaper. Except…

Concerned capitalists keep wanting to enforce the primacy of the shareholder in corporations and thus almost everything comes down to the bottom line. As you probably know, most business people are “concerned capitalists” and if corporations have the rights of a person, it is as a very greedy person that they act as.

So I know in advance due to a preponderance of evidence that if the fair trade coffee organizations fail and Nabob survives, Nabob will eventually see the Rainforest Alliance as a money losing venture. They will either take away funding and keep prices the same or take away the funding and decrease their price to increase market share. Either thing might be done by a greedy person. Notice that there is no option for keeping funding.

Whereas if Nabob failed and fair trade coffee continued, I bet that the fair trade organizations would remain the same.

But wait, there’s another twist thrown out by a different coffee competitor – the mighty Maxwell House brand. I think they see fair trade coffee as straight up charity and thus they are now competing by simply giving straight to charities. In this area of the world.

For those of you who don’t know, coffee is grown in tropical countries – in the developing world. By giving to developed world charities, Maxwell house is making it about a choice of us or them. The greed of customers for their charities is being counted on to “vote” by buying Maxwell House coffee. Notice that the corporation, which is governed by greed for its shareholders, assumes greed is the guiding force in its customer base.

Despite my living in the developed world, I know that the developed world is so much poorer they need money more than the developed nations. Plus, I also know that if money reaches its intended destination in the developing world, the same amount stretches out way further than in the developed world.

So there you have it, three different coffee selling cultures and a brief rundown on the good it does for buying each. Obviously I am pro free trade coffee the most. But it is nice to see that there are 3 options in Canada that just don’t take, they give back as well. I blame free trade coffee. It’s those damn aforementioned goody goods.

About Larry Russwurm

Just another ranter on the Internet. Now in the Fediverse as @admin@larryrusswurm.org
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10 Responses to What Has Fair Trade Coffee Spawned?

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  2. You neglect to mention that because fair trade coffee is done on a small scale as a result it is incredibly fresh, and one reason for being more expensive.

    The big coffee barons (Nestle, Nabob, Folgers, Max etc.) buy vast quantities of coffee beans and store them for years in attempts to control the market and prices. Freeze drying and vacuum packing are no substitute for fresh.

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  7. Is this an adequate enough of a response for developing peoples to those who have gone before them? The people of the so called 1st World States have exploited many natural resources, exploited indigenous populations, waged wars of colonisation, etc. So how can now the people of the developed first world nations, now fault the actions of the developing world as they now do what the developed world has already done?

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