Not a good week of press for Fairtrade. FT:
“Ethical” coffee is being produced in Peru, the world’s top exporter of Fairtrade coffee, by labourers paid less than the legal minimum wage. Industry insiders have also told the Financial Times of non-certified coffee being marked and exported as Fairtrade, and of certified coffee being illegally planted in areas of protected rainforest.
And more from Alex Singleton, who just visited Africa:
Out in rural Kenya last week, I found that there was some scepticism towards the traditional view the co-operatives are always forces for good. In fact, in Kenya, the coffee co-operatives have suffered from significant mismanagement, with individual farmers often exploited by the leaders of the co-operatives. In fairness, Kenya has been trying to help rebalance the situation, for example introducing six year term limits on co-operative leaders. I do worry that spokespeople for the Fairtrade movement suffer from a myopic romantic vision of the coffee farmer in a co-operative, which the truth such an existence is backbreaking and mired in exploitation.