2006/06/09

Black Gold

I can't wait to see Black Gold, a movie about fair trade and coffee. But, in an effort to keep myself honest, let me state my opinion before seeing it, since it will surely change. So here we go..

Fair trade? Fair schmair! In trade, the only thing that's fair is the price you can get. Guilt about grower's poverty is only going to work on a minority of global buyers and therefore have a limited effect on the overall price. What is needed is an appeal to consumers desires, not their guilt. Desire is a very powerful thing that influences price dramatically. Just look at Starbucks. Here's something I wrote about this a while ago Digital Coffee (I don't feel bad about being too self-referential -- this is a blog isn't it? All about me).

What coffee growers need is brand marketing or something like that. Decommoditize the commodity. Then instead of the retailer getting 90% of the value, the source would get 90% of the value. The day rich consumers insist on House of Jimma Ethiopian Coffee, just like they do Godiva Belgian chocolate, or Emmentaler Swiss cheese, that will be the day of the rich coffee farmer.