Friday, June 22, 2007

Now THIS is (a move toward) fair trade

by Ken Houghton

Good news from Starbucks.

No, they haven't stopped playing that McCartney disc. But they have agreed (after claiming last year that they had nothing to do with it) to treat Ethiopian specialty coffees more fairly:
Starbucks has agreed a wide-ranging accord with Ethiopia to support and promote its coffee, ending a long-running dispute over the issue.

The US retailer will market, distribute and, in some cases, license Ethiopia's range of high-quality coffee brands....

[T]he new agreement acknowledges Ethiopian ownership of popular coffee designations such as Yirgacheffe, Harrar and Sidamo, regardless of whether they are registered or not.

Of course, there is a catch of sorts.
Ethiopian farmers will not receive royalty payments from the deal, but it is hoped that more effective distribution and marketing will help boost demand and, in time, lift prices....

"Having the commitment and support of Starbucks will help enhance the quality of Ethiopian fine coffees and improve the income of farmers and traders." [said Getachew Mengistie, director general of the Ethiopian Intellectual Property Office]

Looks like a deal that will lift traders profits, not farmers. But it's a start.


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