9 – 10:15
Commodity Chain : Coffee
Throughout history, coffee growers have always been exploited. Since it was first introduced to countries such as Brazil and Vietnam, two largest producers of coffee, their people were forced into production in basically slave like conditions. Although slavery no longer exists, coffee producers still operated in harsh working conditions and received poor wages. After poor regulation in the 1990’s, prices plummeted to a 30 year low and millions of households dependent on coffee producing wages were left devastated (Tellman). Many producers, struggling to recuperate, found “Fair Trade” to be the answer. The “Fair Trade Certification” is a label that ensured that the growers of the product were made with high standards that were usually unavailable to them in their developing countries. The producers under fair trade would have advantages such as decent working conditions, direct trade, and a higher guaranteed return on each unit produced. Consumers of coffee, who elected to purchase the coffee under the fair trade label for a higher price, would then be promoting the social ideals associated with fair trade. The problem with fair trade coffee, however, is that the money does not return directly to the farmers but the cooperatives they must join in order to receive the certification. The job of the cooperatives is to make sure the coffee being produced meets quality standards but also that the money they receive goes to empowering the workers (Hudson). Unfortunately, because the workers cannot elect how the money is distributed, the cooperatives can easily be corrupted, which is usually the case. Because often times coffee labeled with “Fair Trade Certification” is leading because it cannot ensure better working conditions and better wages for its farmers, it should be avoided.
Although consumers of fair trade coffee pay a higher price, the profit returns to the...