The “Big Four” roasters – Sara Lee, Kraft, Procter & Gamble and Nestlé – buy nearly half the world’s coffee crop and make huge profits. Together, they have the power to make a difference by addressing the misery at the heart of their business and make globalization work for the poor people. If the Big Four work together they can help close that gap, extending to more farmers the benefits of the Fair Trade system.
Sara Lee has done very little to pay coffee farmers better prices. Though it did collaborate with the rest of the industry to bring the coffee crisis to light, it simply has not done enough to establish coffee-buying standards that provide farmers with a decent price, or to aid farmers in diversifying to other crops.
Kraft did not buy Fair Trade coffee in the past year, nor did they produce coffee that met international quality standards. They have been involved in a few social development programs; however they have to contribute at a larger scale to make the necessary difference.
Nestlé has refused to buy Fair Trade coffee in the past, however in comparison to Kraft and Sara Lee, its involvement has been significantly greater. They have supported the efforts of the ICO to address the crisis. Without a complete commitment, however, we cannot put an end to this misery.
Procter and Gamble has paid more farmers a decent price for their coffee than any other company in the industry. It has also helped lobby the US to rejoin the ICO. However, despite the fact that it is the industry leader in terms of fair trade, it still does not have a high enough quality of coffee buying standards in place to ensure good standards for farmers.
The Global Activist's Manual: Local Ways to Change the World by Mike Prokosch, Laura Raymond (United for a Fair Economy)
The Fair Trade Fraud by James Bovard
Bean business basics: The definitive how-to manual for starting & operating a retail specialty coffee business by Ed Aryidson
International Coffee Organization
Fair Trade Coffee
Crisis in a Coffee Cup, Fortune Magazine, Nicholas Stein, December 9, 2002 - highly recommended reading
World View: Coffee Growers' Good Fortune Dries Up, Pittsburg Post-Gazette (reprint from LA Times), T. Christian Miller and Davan Maharaj, October 28, 2002.
Coffee Crisis - the Hard Realities that Fill Your Cup, MSNBC, August 26 - highly recommended viewing / reading
Waking Up to a World Coffee Crisis, St. Petersburg Times, David Adams, August 11, 2002
Grounds for Change