The OCA launched its Starbucks campaign nearly seven years ago. One of the main demands of this campaign has been to force the world's #1 coffee purveyor to stop using rBGH-laced milk in its products. Due to health concerns, rBGH, a genetically engineered cow hormone, is banned in most of the world, but is legal in the U.S.
After hundreds of OCA organized rallies at Starbucks around the world, and years of grassroots pressure, Starbucks announced, as of January 1, 2008, all of Starbucks products are rBGH-free. The OCA will continue to pressure Starbucks to increase its sales of organic and Fair Trade coffee and start selling Fair Trade chocolate.
While Starbucks has slowly bought more certified Fair Trade coffee, it represents only a very small percentage of their total coffee (about 3.7%). Starbucks rarely offers certified Fair Trade coffee as their coffee of the day, nor has it followed its own policy of brewing Fair Trade coffee, on demand.
Fair Trade is an alternative way of doing business - one that builds equitable, long-term partnerships between consumers and producers. There are many definitions of precisely what Fair Trade is, but one that is often agreed upon is the FINE definition:
Fair trade is a trading partnership, based on dialogue, transparency and respect, which seeks greater equity in international trade. It contributes to sustainable development by offering better trading conditions to, and securing the rights of, marginalized producers and workers - especially in the South. Fair trade organizations (backed by consumers) are engaged actively in supporting producers, awareness raising and in campaigning for changes in the rules and practice of conventional international trade.
Many coffee farmers receive prices for their harvest that can be less than the costs of production, forcing them into a cycle of poverty and debt. They are often forced to sell to intermediaries who pay them a fraction of the market price, generally between 10-50 cents per pound.
Fair trade coffee currently sells for a minimum of $1.26 per pound.
This money goes directly to coffee farmers, not to predatory intermediaries.
Go further. Read the International Fair Trade Association's 10 Standards of Fair Trade
From Cultural Survival Magazine, Sept. 19, 2005: