With Friends Like These: The corporate response to fair trade
Capitalist agriculture is highly exploitative of both producers and the environment. Fair trade is a movement attempting to mitigate this exploitation, partly by baiting corporate actors into the arena of “ethical production.”
In the coffee industry, major corporations are responding by discrediting fair trade and branding themselves as ethical. While falling well short of addressing the real demands of the movement, the proliferation of “ethical” labels resulting from this response threatens to destroy fair trade’s own ethical brand.