Millennials and Starbucks

Goals

To understand how Starbucks has been communicating a false sense of fair trade through its marketing.

Early Findings

  • According to Brazilian labor inspectors, there are slave labor practices on "plantations where Starbucks buys coffee." These are plantations that "have been certified to Starbucks’ C.A.F.E. Practices standards."
  • This points to "a huge systemic problem with the way Starbucks is meeting their commitment to 99% ethical coffee.” It is noteworthy that it was not Starbucks that brought this problem to light but the Brazilian government.
  • A similar issue has been reported as well in 2018. Labor inspectors published reports in the fall of 2018 "tying Starbucks to a plantation where workers were forced to work live and work in filthy conditions." This plantation had a Starbucks’ C.A.F.E. Practices certification but Starbucks "denied buying from the farm in recent years."
  • In these plantations, "workers reported dead bats and mice in their food, no sanitation systems, and work days that stretched from 6AM to 11PM, the payment system was rigged and the coffee they picked disappeared before it could be tallied." Also, "deductions to cash their checks meant that workers had barely any take-home pay."
  • In 2015, Starbucks claimed that "99% of their coffee was “ethically sourced” in compliance" with the C.A.F.E. standards. These standards are Starbucks' own Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) code.

Proposed next steps:

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