Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Nescafé Partners' Blend

What Nescafé say:
When you drink Nescafé Partners' Blend Fairtrade certified coffee, you enjoy an exceptionally smooth, rich coffee. And, better still, you help the people who grow your coffee, their families and their communities with every cup. Learn more at

Nescafe - it's all about you
This is one brand from Nescafé's range (which include Gold Blend, Blend 37 and Nescafé). To me, the logical inference from this advertisement is that if you drink these other brands, then you are not helping the people who grow the coffee, their families and their communities. Surely if a coffee seller were genuinely concerned about the ethics of Fairtrade, they would make sure all brands were Fairtrade, not just one. This really gives the impression that Nestlé are more concerned about image rather than substance.

People object to Fairtrade because it distorts the market place, subsidising supposedly inefficient practices. The problem is that the marketplace is already massively distorted, and has never been "fair". Multinational corporations have such immense buying power that they can offer a "take it or leave it" price - forcing suppliers to sell at a price below the cost of production - driven by consumers whose highest priority for the last thirty years has been cheaper prices in supermarkets. That's not capitalism at work, at least as it was originally conceived of - or not for the benefit of all parties, anyway.

The same thing is happening in all sorts of different markets. In the UK, supermarkets who dominate the retail sector force suppliers to cut prices, making it virtually impossible to make a living from farming, whilst the supermarket profits soar. Subsisting farmers in West Africa are unable to sell their milk at the local market, because milk from the Netherlands, surplus to European requirements and produced with a EU subsidy, is being dumped there.

We did a taste test of various different Fairtrade instant coffees, from suppliers that seem to have more ethical credentials than Nestlé and Kenco. Our preferred option? This one.