You may have heard of Starbucks’ CAFE Practices, a program Starbucks is claiming is superior to fair trade. CAFE Practices is described on Starbucks’ website as “guidelines designed to help us work with coffee farmers to ensure high-quality coffee and promote equitable relationships with farmers, workers and communities, as well as protect the environment.”
But Seia over at Green LA Girl is wondering why we should be trusting Starbucks with their alternative to fair trade when they developed it by themselves and for themselves. The program hasn’t been audited by any third-parties, which means we’re just trusting Starbucks that this is better for local farmers than fair trade… as opposed to the most obvious suspicion that this is simply better for Starbucks than fair trade. Trust ill-placed, especially given Starbucks doesn’t guarantee farmers a minimum price guarantee.
It’s a great read, and Seia points to Whole Foods similar fair trade alternative as precedent, which ended up being worse for farmers overall. The lesson here is don’t trust companies when they try to claim they care for other businesses more than themselves, especially when the company is Starbucks’ and the businesses they care about are small businesses, which the company has a long history of trying to obliterate through callow legal threats.