Starbucks is not a green company…

…as their despicable treatment of the coffee growers of Ethiopia shows. I’ve been reading greenLAgirl recently and I can recommend her blog for all issues green. As she points out “Whether or not Starbucks actually deserves to be called a green company, the mermaid’s certainly been pretty successful at marketeing itself as such. But now that Starbucks has come out in fierce opposition against Ethiopia’s efforts to trademark its coffee names, that green halo might disappear for good.” Professor Douglas Holt of Oxford University says, “The specialty coffee market is failing simply because a handful of companies like Starbucks have extraordinary market power and are able to use this power to control the value chain. Starbucks is able to play off the millions of small producers around the world and so are able to set the terms of trade.
By comparison, in Ethiopia, specialty beans are produced by a estimated 600,000 small growers with little knowledge of commodities markets, no capital reserves, and no ability to act cohesively as a group to sell their coffee. As a result prices are set for them at niggardly world commodity levels and they have no choice but to take it.
Because Ethiopian brands are traded under the Starbucks trademark, Starbucks controls the transaction with customers and reaps the economic benefits.” By coincidence I went to see two of my Ethiopian friends yesterday. They are lovely people and one of them is a deeply Christian member of one of the oldest churches in the world. They were very critical of the unfair trade situation that had been forced on them over the years. As even the Times points out, “Jim Donald, Starbucks’ chief executive, was preparing to visit Ethiopia tomorrow for talks with Meles Zenawi, its Prime Minister.
Douglas Holt, the L’Oréal Professor of Marketing at Oxford University’s Saïd Business School, accused Starbucks of hypocrisy and abuse of power and said that the company was in danger of damaging its name among its educated middle-class customers by opposing Addis Ababa’s attempts to trademark Ethiopia’s coffee varieties in the United States.
The international coffee chain had worked hard to cultivate a progressive image, selling fair trade and “ethical” products and promoting sustainable development among the poorest coffee-growers, he said.” Well I won’t be buying any more Starbucks coffee that’s for sure! What about a boycott, greenies?


About Leighton Cooke

The Original Cookiemouse
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