Thursday, June 12, 2008

Rainforest Alliance... fairtrade lite?

So, people have been wondering with the announcement MacDonalds made that they've changed their coffee to Rainforest Alliance what exactly it is?
Not a bad question.... it seems to me after looking into it a bit that it is safe to call the rainforest alliance a fairtrade 'lite' option... it's not quite the ideal... the prices offered aren't the best but they are better than the going rate... and the other little thing that is of great interest is that the company only has to have 30% of it's beans in any container certified to use the label (that smells a little funny).
You can read more about it here.
Look into it... bottom line is it's better than nothing but not the dream... I say, let's live the dream!


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Sean said...

These are just some immediate thoughts coming into my mind: Rainforest Alliance is like giving a tea-break to a slave, like providing a sweatshop worker with coffee and biscuits (arrowroot - no margarine, yuck).

It seems like a minimum concession to appease the trendy Social Responsibility bandwagon, of which we have no part in (even in bearing the fact that the "RFA" is 17 years old?)

Suppose everyone was at the Rainforst Alliance standard. 30% of every coffee bag/jar had been bought at a half-fair decent price for the coffee growers/farmers etc. It would seem there would still be a need for the Fairtrade Foundation to exist.

So I guess, the question is for us, why support the small concession when the better thing is already available? Why settle for mediocre justice?

I'm with you. Live the dream.

Clint said...

At best this is a compromise between profits and appeasement of the community. At worst this is a deliberate attempt to deceive consumers by saying "o look but we do this..." Unfortunately it doesn't address the real issues for me...I'm not buying into this.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for alerting us to this issue.

As an extremely avid coffee drinker :-D this is of great importance to me. We buy only organic, fair trade coffee at home, and if there are ever two coffee shops close buy and one is fair trade it will get my business every time.

Where I work there are three coffee shops - one selling Map, and one selling Monte (neither of which are fairtrade), and the other is the McCafe. Based on this, I'd rather buy at McCafe - I just wish other coffee shops would get with the program!

Oh, and one other thing - according to McDonalds, they don't only use 30% Rainforest Alliance coffee for the labelling - it says on its website "Every bean we grind at McCafé is made using 100% Arabica coffee beans sourced only from Rainforest Alliance Certified farms" (see

Anyway, I think it's a step in the right direction even if it's not a total solution.

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