The essay is a critical examination of the issue of coffee growers, middlemen and consumers of the product. The analysis is made possible by closely examining Starbucks Corporation which had only seventeen coffee shops back in 1978 and seventeen years down the line, the stores grew to a shocking 8,000. Its position in the world economy makes it to have a greater purchasing power, this influencing coffee market. It is an international company which roasts, brand and retail coffee globally. It partnered with Conservation International in a project dubbed “On Good Grounds” (AllBusiness, 1999). Questions addressed herein are whether coffee grow receive a fair share of money paid by the consumers, efforts made by Starbucks Corporation in trying to ensure that prices paid are fair, environmental and economic benefits of the project, whether am ready to pay much more for the same quantity of coffee for coffee which is more socially responsible and who else need to be paid between consumers and coffee growers.
From review of available literature it is apparent that coffee growers are not receiving affair price for their goods. With prices down to between $.60 and $%.70 per pound, more and more coffee farmers are becoming more impoverished, being in debts, losing their land, unable to educate their kids, feed the family and provide basic need to their families. While this happens, coffee companies have not yet reduced higher consumer prices they charge hence pocketing the differences; opening more locations at the expense of the farmers. As suggested by Fair Trade Labeling Organization International, coffee farmers only sell close to 20%^ of their product in a fair price. About 80% of the coffee is being sold in the market price. It is worth noting that Starbuck is a target for anti-globalization crowd because of its rapid growth at the expense of poor farmers (Bryant, 2009).
For the corporation to pay fair prices for its coffee it has actively engaged itself in fair trade which entails meeting very strict international conditions such as paying a minimum price of $1.26 per pound, provide credit to farmers as well as offering technical support to organic farming (Miller & Maharaj, 2002). The last initiative can be termed non monetary and indirect fair pay of prices.
In my view, if the project is implemented in the most well thought and creative manner, it will bring not only short term economic benefit but also long-term together with environmental benefits. It is worth noting that the effort seeks to conserve the environment which is habitat for endemic wildlife species. These animals support tourism leading to income generation. The company in addition company looks into possibilities which it can be offering storage facilities for the farmers to store their produce as an initiative to boost them economically. Lastly and more importantly, the project will ensure sustainable exploitation of natural resource, land and ensure it can be of use to the coming generations (AllBusiness, 1999).
Concerning the issue of paying more for a socially responsible coffee, am ready to do that provided the profit generated are not pocketed by unscrupulous business people but trickle down to the farmers which will help support him as well as their families. Additionally, if the environment will be conserved for the enjoyment of the future generation, I don’t mind paying an extra dollar for that to be realized.
It is important to note that those who buy coffee from farmers, transport and manufacture are among individuals or entities that need to be paid. I hold the opinion that factoring in what the farmer gets for his product and what I pay; I believe that what I pay is much as the middleman seems to pocket much of the differences that accrued as a result of the business.