Oct 9, 2023Liked by Gad Allon

Great read!

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"As a result, companies new to certifications see a 46-fold greater decrease in violations compared to those that already have a significant number of certified products. On the other hand, companies that don’t pursue certifications but make their own CSR claims don’t show any improvement in violation rates. "


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Professor Allon, I enjoyed learning about these new UK restrictions on coffee, especially when you compared it to alternatives such as the Fair Trade Certification. I agree with you that the ban may harm small-scale farmers, however, I think that an optional certification for companies does not offer a suitable alternative. While in theory a Fair Trade Certification may provide companies with an edge to appeal to eco-aware consumers, consumers seem to disregard such certifications in practice.

If we look at the leading coffee companies in the UK, we see that most of the major companies lack a Fair Trade Certification. The leading coffee chain, Costa Coffee, uses the Rainforest Alliance certification which fails to set a minimum price and to add a fixed premium for community projects as Fair Trade does (International Guide to Fair Trade Labels). Similarly, Nestle switched from Fair Trade in 2020 to the less restrictive Rainforest Alliance. Another huge UK coffee company, Starbucks, withdrew from Fair Trade in favor of their own certification, C.A.F.E. Practices. Under this new and weak policy, Starbucks has no minimum guaranteed price and has been accused of using forced labor. Therefore, it seems that the popularity of coffee brands in the UK does not depend on their environmental certificates.

I agree with you that a ban could hurt certain suppliers because companies will try to circumvent limitations. Nonetheless, there must be some regulation of the coffee industry. Perhaps your idea of improving transparency through a uniform certification platform is best. I’m not sure of the correct approach to protect suppliers and the environment, but I am sure that some intervention must be implemented.

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