Many of America's biggest companies are discovering that social consciousness is part of the price of doing business. McDonald's, Burger King and Wendy's all have improved the treatment of animals under pressure from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. Starbucks, Dunkin' Donuts and now P&G have agreed to sell fair trade coffee following activist pressure. And P&G's Millstone also will begin selling a shade-grown blend certified by the Rainforest Alliance.So consumers can choose to support "fair trade" (still an appalling misnomer) just as they might support, say, dolphin-safe tuna. What's more, the trend has legs:
P&G's fair trade versions could filter down to its Folgers and private label brands. "We've seen lots of trends start in the gourmet segment and move down." says Tonia Hyatt, P&G's coffee sustainability manager.This is how capitalism works, folks: You want something, you pay for it, no less for the fair trade stamp than when you work with a company that has an ISO certification.
Of course, if you believe the market can work more generally, more globally, then you won't be inclined to think so-called fair trade prices are helpful anyway. But that's another debate.