Often under pressure from customers and consumer groups, corporations will say what they think people want to hear.
Unfortunately, they don't always follow up on their promises.
The best publicized instance of "I say it, but don't do it" in the world of fair trade coffee is the Starbucks Challenge. Two bloggers took Starbucks at its word when it promised it would always serve a customer fair trade coffee, even if it meant making a single cup with a French press.
The two bloggers challenged their readers to go to their local Starbucks and ask for a cup of fair trade coffee. Hundreds of people from all over the world took up the challenge. In most instances, they didn’t get what Starbucks promised.
The Times of London picked up the story recently and took a look at how much fair trade coffee big companies like Starbucks and Nestle really sell. The percentages are small. That said, the volume of beans sold is still significant.
Here is a short excerpt from the Times article:
Starbucks, meanwhile, could certainly do better, as could many of the other biggies. In the last financial year, only 3.7 per cent of the coffee it sold globally was Fairtrade, though this is up from the 1.6 per cent of the previous year. Nescafé’s Partners Blend, the Fairtrade option launched by Nestlé, accounts for only 0.02 per cent of its total coffee sales.
The moral of the story? Keep pushing the big companies...and make sure they keep the promises they make.