Fairtrade Foundation has just announced that it has given a fairtrade label to
a new line of Nestle coffee (Nescafe Partners Blend). This is a betrayal of the
principles of fairtrade principles, set up over the last 20 years to stop the
marginalisation of small-scale farmers, to guarantee fair prices for products,
and to support democratic control by producers over their
For Nestle this is a cheap public relations trip to undermine the Nestle boycott – the biggest consumer boycott of any single product in the UK. For the Fairtrade Foundation, it undermines its reputation and will undoubtedly damage the success of fairtrade.
Please take action. Read on for problems with Nestle obtaining a fair trade label:
- Nestle has recently been found the ‘least responsible’ global corporation, subject to a boycott from for its aggressive marketing of baby milk formula which leads the deaths of millions infants in places where water is unsafe. See Baby Milk Action for more info: www.babymilkaction.org.
- Fairtrade aims to end the marginalisation of small-scale farmers in response to the corporatisation of the global food supply. Large corporations like Nestle have driven farmers across the world out of business with savage supplier relations.
- Farmers are replaced with plantation workers, slaving in poor conditions for a pittance. Nestle is still pursuing these tactics with all of its other coffee brands, and as such is the antithesis of fairtrade. Its fairtrade label does not signify a change of heart but a brutal marketing strategy to rescue Nescafe from its boycott image.
- Fairtrade should be against corporate dominance, and in favour of a different more sustainable way of producing and trading, where all profits go back to communities rather than into the pockets of Western shareholders.
- Even if corporations guarantee workers a fair price for their labour, they still have the power to drive currently existing fairtrade cooperatives out of business because of their enormous influence over marketing and placing.
- This announcement comes in the same month trade unionists in the Philippines mourn the death of the leader of a protest at the Nestle factory, who was assassinated; as trade unionists from Colombia gather in Switzerland to present evidence of Nestle's links to paramilitaries; and as a campaign is launched in the US over its alleged "involvement in the trafficking, torture, and forced labor of children who cultivate and harvest cocoa beans".
- The system seems designed to continue the dependence on Third World producers as providers of cheaper commodities to the First World, as all the processing, it seems, will continue to be done elsewhere.
The Fairtrade Foundation quotes the case of Salvadorian coffee farmers who benefit from Nestle’s new product line:
“in 2000 they were being offered just 45 cents per pound of coffee by local traders. They could not recoup the cost of producing their own crop and experienced severe hardship, resulting in some having to abandon their own farms to become hired labourers for larger farm owners.”
This completely ignores the fact that it was Nestle, and companies like it, which drove down coffee prices, and continue to do this in all their other product lines.
Email or write to the Head of the Fairtrade Foundation Harriet Lamb. A sample letter is below, but feel free to adapt.
The Fairtrade Foundation
16 Baldwin's Gardens
I am deeply disappointed with the Fairtrade Foundation’s recent decision to grant a Nestle product line fairtrade status. I believe that this is a betrayal of the principles of fairtrade, which I have supported for a long time now. I believe this decision undermines the principles of fairtrade, and will also undermine your reputation. I myself no longer feel able to trust your label, and will have to be more discerning in future.