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Monday, 25 February, 2002, 20:08 GMT
Starbucks offers 'ethical' coffee
Starbucks website
Starbucks promotes fair trade products online
The Starbucks coffee chain will begin selling Fairtrade endorsed coffee in the UK, after it began offering similar ethical coffee once a month at its US outlets.

The Fairtrade Foundation said the move would provide a higher profile for certified coffee and benefit the environmental movement, even though the amount sold would be small.

Due to global overproduction, coffee beans dropped about 70% in price last year, causing severe economic and social hardship in coffee growing countries.

Starbucks, which reported record profits of $805m in the three months to the end of December, buys about 1% of the global coffee crop.

The Costa Coffee chain in the UK already offers Fairtrade coffee at its outlets.

PR campaign?

"The main significance is the profile, the awareness it gives to fair trade," said Ian Bretnam, Fairtrade's deputy director.

"From what we understand, the volume's not likely to be too significant," he added.

The coffee would be of the same standard of taste as other kinds sold in its cafes, and would be available countrywide by the summer, a Starbucks spokeswoman said.

"We are committed to this kind of initiative, we're delighted to have been able to sign this agreement, it's not just advertising," the spokeswoman said after the firm concluded the deal.

Fair deal

Farmers who grow Fairtrade certified coffee work in co-operatives and agree to abide by certain environmental and ethical standards.

Protesters have criticised Starbucks and demanded coffee farmers be paid higher prices for their crops.

Starbucks has said that it buys more than half its beans directly from farms and co-ops, eliminating payments to middlemen.

Fairtrade's deputy director, Ian Bretnam
"People are prepared to pay a little but extra if necessary"
See also:

16 May 01 | Business
Coffee farmers 'face destitution'
24 Aug 01 | Business
The Cappuccino Trail
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