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,
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the shareholders have withdrawn the resolution they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]
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.