Fair trade coffee perks up with Procter & Gamble decision

 

NEW YORK, New York, September 15, 2003 (ENS): Environmental and fair trade groups hailed the announcement by Procter & Gamble, the largest seller of coffee in the United States, that it would introduce Fair Trade Certified coffee products through its specialty coffee division, Millstone.

The announcement comes in response to dialogue with shareholders about the company's practices, as well as pressure from consumers, people of faith, human rights activists, and humanitarian organizations. In the wake of this announcement, the advocacy groups have agreed to suspend their campaigns against the corporation and the shareholders have withdrawn the resolution they had filed on the issue.

"With world market prices as low as they are right now, we see that many coffee farmers cannot maintain their families and their land anymore," said Jeronimo Bollen, director of Manos Campesinas, a Fair Trade Certified coffee cooperative in Guatemala. "We need Fair Trade now more than ever."

The price of coffee has fallen almost 50 percent over the past three years and now hovers near a 30 year low. This has caused an economic crisis for some 25 million coffee growing families in more than 50 developing countries.

Grown by democratically organized cooperatives, Fair Trade Certified coffee guarantees farmers a minimum of $1.26 a pound for their harvest. Last month, the International Coffee Organization composite indicator average price for green coffee was 52 cents a pound.

The action by Procter & Gamble is an "excellent example of what can be accomplished through the collaboration of shareholder activists and nonprofit organizations," said Sister Ruth Rosenbaum, executive director of the Center for Reflection, Education and Action, which helped lead the shareholder dialogue with Procter & Gamble. "It is a win-win for the world's small-scale coffee farmers, for the environment, and for [the company] itself."

Procter & Gamble is one of the four largest coffee companies in the world. With this announcement, it joins a more than 200 coffee companies that currently offer Fair Trade Certified coffee.


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