Global Exchange’s Statement on Starbucks’ “CAFÉ Practices”
Responsible coffee sourcing efforts are much-needed in improving the state of the coffee industry and should be the norm rather than the exception. We appreciate that Starbucks is working on a system that combines social/economic and environmental aspects, a move that mirrors the purchasing guidelines of many 100% Fair Trade Certified companies and concerned consumers.
Given the severe and long-term devastation facing coffee producers and workers, and the declining state of the environment and public health in coffee-growing regions, the coffee industry must come to embrace standards that span beyond the current “Café Practices.” As such, Global Exchange views the CAFÉ Practices as a launching point for such improvements, and the first of many steps Starbucks and the wider industry must take.
Starbucks has long been viewed as an industry beacon, giving the CAFE Practices strong potential to pull the industry forward. However, it is essential that we set our benchmarks not in terms of where the industry is now, but where it can be. For Global Exchange, the industry’s accountability and potential are best represented by Fair Trade Certification. More than 200 companies offer some level of Fair Trade Certified coffee, much of which is also co-certified as organic and shade grown. Most of these companies offer well above the 5% Fair Trade Certified level Global Exchange and its countless supporters continue to request from Starbucks. The number of high-percentage and 100% Fair Trade Certified companies continues to increase, clear signs that Fair Trade is a viable business model as well the standard for social accountability.
Global Exchange looks forward to the continued development of the CAFE Practices, leading to a sourcing program that at its basic level ensures a decent quality of life for all coffee producers and their communities, and that at its highest level harmonizes with the FLO, organic, and shade-grown certification standards. We anticipate and welcome continued communications on this matter, as well as the establishment of a CAFE Practices-review team including experts on each of the core areas involved.
Global Exchange is also eager to discuss Starbucks’ plans for increased Fair Trade purchasing, product diversification, and availability, with complementary promotion. The implementation of the CAFE Practices in no way reduces our initial and still unmet demands in these areas. Global Exchange and numerous other organizations have worked tirelessly to build the Fair Trade market. Starbucks must address this growing demand and the coffee crisis through increased investment Fair Trade and by promoting it accurately and sufficiently.
As noted in previous communications, consumers have reported an inability to get brewed and bagged Fair Trade Certified coffee in Starbucks stores across the USA. Promotion has been limited by lack of relevant information in stores and other communication channels (ads, website), poor placement of bagged Fair Trade coffee (on low shelves with least visibility), and the availability of only one Fair Trade blend - resulting in lower than hoped for sales. Moreover, colleges across the USA are increasingly converting to 100% Fair Trade certified, resulting in the need to switch to a company that meets their full needs: light and dark roast, decaf, and espresso. In order to capitalize on consumer interest for Fair Trade and demonstrate the highest level of corporate accountability, Starbucks must put in writing and demonstrate concrete improvements in these areas.
Read our general feedback  on the initial Preferred Suppliers Program draft, currently the same as CAFE Standards.