Fair Trade Coffee

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Is Fair Trade Coffee a Quick Corporate Fix?

Writing in the newsletter of the Minneapolis-based Wedge Co-op, Rodney North warns that the token use of fair trade certification can "prematurely undermine the public pressure for real change." North points to a web-based survey by U.K.-based Baby Milk Action, which asked supporters what they thought of the fair trade certification of Nestlé's Partners Blend coffee. Two-thirds of 500 survey respondents, of whom 79% are currently boycotting Nestlé, thought the certification meant the whole company had been audited for fair trade practices. "The truth is the Fair Trade certification system examines only the individual products bearing the seal, and not companies," he writes. North points out that fair trade coffee accounts for just 0.1% of Nestlé's annual coffee imports, and has no effect on numerous other commodities the company buys.

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