• Codes of conduct


    Codes of conduct or codes of practice such as Eurepgap (see 03.05.04) are a good example of how purchasing power translates into change at the producing end. The retailer demands certain assurances of the roaster who in turn requires their suppliers to conform. This is not to say that all this has come about entirely spontaneously: the 1990s saw a number of food scares that have undoubtedly focused consumer attention on the how and what of the food and drink they consume. But even so, as in some other industries, one can probably mark the 1990s as a turning point for the policies of the larger roasters with respect to social responsibility. Pressure through lobbying and campaigns may have contributed to this attitude change.

    At the same time, the market share for roasted coffee under the Transfair and Fairtrade seals reached 10,000 tons for the first time in 1995 (2009 sales were 92,000 tons GBE). As an example, since Starbucks introduced Transfair coffee to the United States market in 1999, a growing number of coffee retailers in the United States have become licensed to sell Fairtrade.

    An increasing number of individual companies and associations such as the Specialty Coffee Associations of America and of Europe are engaged in a variety of activities related to what may broadly be called codes of conduct.

    Some of these are listed here by way of example; this listing is by no means exhaustive:

    1. A campaign by the Guatemala Labour Education Project (US-GLEP, now US-LEAP) led the United States-based Starbucks coffee company to create a company code of conduct in 1995. In 1998 Starbucks began its ‘98-99 Framework for Action’, under which it launched different programmes aimed at community building and improving conditions in coffee producing regions. In late 2001 Starbucks also introduced a Preferred Supplier pilot programme, to provide financial incentives for producers of high quality coffee that meet important social, environmental and economic criteria. Producers meeting all criteria were awarded Preferred Supplier status. This has since evolved into a fully fledged guideline system known today as the Starbucks Coffee Company C.A.F.E. Practices. For details of these sourcing guidelines in English and Spanish go to www.scscertified.com/csrpurchasing/starbucks.html.
    2. In early 2002 the United States firm of Procter & Gamble, owner of the Folgers and Millstone coffee companies, announced a long-term US$ 1.5 million alliance with the international non-profit organization TechnoServe to boost the competitiveness of small-scale producers in selected Latin American coffee producing countries and, where appropriate, to explore alternatives to coffee production. TechnoServe itself, founded in 1968, has been involved with providing small-scale growers with coffee production, processing and marketing assistance for a number of years. It is active in El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Peru, Ghana, Kenya, Mozambique, South Africa, Uganda and the United Republic of Tanzania. For more information go to www.technoserve.org.
    3. There are also other, smaller but more directly focused programmes, such as the well-known Coffee Kids initiative in the United States (www.coffeekids.org), that also work successfully to improve the lives of coffee growers, their workers and their families. Unfortunately, space does not permit more such individual initiatives to be reviewed here.
    4. For further information on social accountability issues (SA8000 framework) see http://www.sa-intl.org/, the website of Social Accountability International. See also www.saiplatform.org.
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