Filed Under: Soft Drinks

Magic Beans That Make Prices Grow

Facing pressure from activist groups — including Organic Consumers Association (OCA) pickets tastefully carried out in New York and Washington less than a week after September 11 — Starbucks will shell out up to 10 cents more a pound to coffee suppliers who meet certain “politically correct” standards — which means it’s almost certain Starbucks customers will have to pay more for a cup of joe.

So are the activists celebrating? Of course not. One representative of Global Exchange says Starbucks must submit to “third-party verification” by activist-approved assessors. And the folks who brought us the IMF/World Bank protests are planning to harass customers at several big-city supermarkets on December 8 as part of “Fair Trade Coffee Day” — sponsored by OCA and Global Exchange.

These are just the first percolations of the P.C. coffee movement. Mark Ritchie of the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy also runs Peace Coffee, which sells “fair trade, organic, shade-grown coffees” — for profit, at $9.50 per pound. That’s more than seven times what Starbucks will pay wholesale under its new deal.

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