Berkeley corporate accountability activists and coffee drinkers alike will be pleased to hear that a large coalition of organizations, including San Francisco-based Global Exchange, has won their campaign to force Procter and Gamble, the largest seller of coffee in the U.S., to start carrying Fair Trade Certified coffee.
The two-year-old campaign, according to Valerie Orth from Global Exchange, is a giant step towards helping 25 million coffee-growing families around the world receive a fair price for their product.
Berkeley is well versed on the issue of fair trade coffee as a result of last year’s Measure O, which proposed that Berkeley coffee vendors only carry fair trade coffee. Though voters ultimately rejected the measure, Orth said the media coverage generated by the election “was instrumental in raising awareness about fair-trade coffee.”
Fair Trade Certification insures that farmers receive at least $1.26 a pound for their harvest, compared to last month’s industrial average of $0.52 as computed by the International Coffee Organization. Activists say higher prices will create sustainability for small farmers, many of whom have already been driven out of business by large coffee growing companies that use chemicals and unconventional means to increase their productivity.
Orth said the agreement will eventually result in Proctor and Gamble carrying up to three million pounds of Fair Trade coffee a year, adding that until then “[the coalition] is certainly watching Proctor and Gamble to make sure that they hold to their commitment.”
Global Exchange and the other organizations involved in the campaign are encouraging people to call or fax in a letter to Proctor and Gamble before the company’s Oct. 14 shareholder meeting to let the firm know that they appreciate their commitment.
For more information on the campaign or on how to contact Proctor and Gamble please visit the Global Exchange website at www.globalexchange.org.