There is one last thing that rankled during my trip. I don’t use Starbucks because I deplore their corporate policies: over the years, I have read and witnessed their treatment of coffee farmers, profiteering from customers, tax avoidance policies and abuse of franchisees which all turn it into a company I do not want to do business with. Those who know me know I’m a coffee freak but I’ll suck on a stone rather than put a penny into the Starbuck’s machine. Some years ago, after they were caught out in dubious practices relating to coffee growers, Starbucks did a volte face and developed what it calls “ethically sourced” coffee. It is proud of its conduct. But it’s highly selective.
At home, English diary farmers are closing down, committing suicide, being bounced off their land as business financing falls short and their stock, equipment, land and homes are sold to repay debt.
Why? Because the amount paid to English farmers is significantly less than the cost of production.
Why? Because large scale purchasers negotiate bulk deals with a national co-operative that pays farmers on a take it or leave it basis. Starbucks, and others, need to start paying English farmers ethical amounts for their milk.
It’s not charity, it’s sustainable supply chain management.
And just as it’s important to pay the world’s coffee farmers an amount that provides them with a living and a return on capital, so they should for milk. Oh, and they really should pay taxes on their profits, leaving royalties and other IP payments out of account.
So there you are. If you’ve been wondering why I’ve been quiet for a week or so, now you know.
© 2015 Nigel Morris-Cotterill
All rights reserved.
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