This text is translated from the article on the website reporterbrasil.org.br
Foto: Lilo Clareto/Repórter Brasil
Following the publication of the « slave labour » black list, which includes coffee producers in the Mineiro Triangle (coffee region of Minas Gerais State), the multinational companies Starbucks and Nespresso announced that they would investigate and suspend trade relations with the fazendas that provide them with a « sustainable » coffee.
The decision of the two multinationals follows the official publication of a register containing 48 new names of employers caught in the act of employing people in conditions amounting to modern slavery. Among them is the coffee producer Helvécio Sebastião Batista, certified by the Nespresso and Starbucks quality labels. « Given the damning elements of the latest Ministry of Labour report, we immediately suspended all trade relations with the producer in question and will investigate the matter, » says a note sent by Nespresso. « The farms that supply coffee to the company are rigorously evaluated and supervised each year to ensure that the very strict charter of the programme is scrupulously respected. We do not tolerate any breach of the rules that the supplier has undertaken to respect if he wants to work with us, » said the company’s representative.
Today, it is relevant to question the « faitrade » certifications « Max Haavelar » « Rain Forest » or labels such as « FSC ». Do the certifying bodies have sufficient control frequencies? Can the demand for certified products really be met by serious organizations? Finally, isn’t it wise to reconsider our consumption patterns: isn’t the growing demand for coffee and cocoa, even certified, threatening to undermine the remaining islands of primary forests