January 11, 2007

McDonalds Coffee - Fair Trade

So the latest place you can get a cup of Fair Trade coffee is at the golden arches of McDonald’s. The big old burger chain is going Fair Trade in the UK changing over their restaurants this week. They buy their coffee in the UK from Kraft, one of the largest coffee producers in the world. This has to put some muscle behind the Fair Trade movement, and may get things a lot closer to the tipping point to get a majority of coffee producers to back the movement.

Hopefully the market responds, and they see the business benefit in the States too.

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Posted by Scott Martin at January 11, 2007 9:33 AM
Recent Comments

I understand that side of it, but I don't see it that way. If one doesn't want someone like McDonald's in Fair Trade, they're destined to fail. It will be limited to a bunch of boutique brands that collectively sell as much coffee in a year that someone like Kraft sells in a day. Fair Trade works on the premise that markets will drive manufacturers to use Fair Trade to appeal to consumers and boost the sales of their brands. That's the bait.

I don't care so much if McDonald's has been known for their poor practices in the past; what I think is great is the fact that the capitalistic nature of the markets "pushed" McD's, with potentially a bad record, to turn things around. They took the bait and the farmers win. To apply a little Arlo Guthrie and Alice's Restaurant thinking here, if one big corporation does this you might think that they are sick, but if fifty corporations do it it's a movement. In my mind success is if McDonald's and Nestle and Maxwell House/Kraft and Folgers and everyone else all go Fair Trade.

The real winners are the farmers and that's why Fair Trade was founded. It's not a club for people who hoped to keep this small and exclusive. I'd like to see a day when a Fair Trade organization isn't needed because all farmers are dealt with at "Fair Trade" levels.

Posted by: Scott Martin at January 12, 2007 7:26 PM

You caught the press release but unfortunately missed the real story here. A good number of people within Fair Trade see this as cynical marketing from a company historically known for their exploitive practices -- and they worry this drags down Fair Trade in the dirt.

Others, like myself, point out how this is just another crack in the crumbling façade of Fair Trade -- as it has been co-opted by the very corporations it was founded to defend against and suffered from the weight of its own growth.

Posted by: Greg Sherwin at January 12, 2007 6:15 PM
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