Ethical Issues At Starbucks

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Ethical Issues at Starbucks

Ethical Issues at Starbucks

This paper highlights ethical issues at Starbucks corporation. Starbucks has launched its Shared Planet espresso, promoted as a '100% responsibly-grown, ethically-traded' coffee… and, predictably, the world's media and activist forums have had a field day ( There have been regular complaints against Starbucks that the firm was doing its best to avoid systems which required external monitoring of its concept of 'ethical', while the Independent said that the concept was a kind of 'Fairtrade-Lite', and that the chain would have done better to announce it was going to go 100% Fair-trade in three or four years' time (

The origins and other details of the coffee are vague, but in the kind of corporate statement which the company always uses to answer questions, a spokesman confirmed that Shared Planet coffee will become the standard coffee for the chain's espresso-based drinks.

“Starbucks Shared Planet establishes a new mark, guaranteeing customers that all Starbucks espresso-based beverages in the Europe, Middle East and Africa region are 100% responsibly grown and ethically traded,” said the statement ( “Starbucks' espresso roast has been used in all its espresso-based beverages since the late seventies - the key developments are that it now meets the guidelines endorsed by Conservation International.”

Details of Shared Planet espresso are deliberately obscure, with Starbucks only saying that it is a blend from Latin America and the Asia/Pacific region that features a rich aroma and a soft acidity balanced with a dense, caramelly sweetness. The coffees that make up the blend are apparently grown under the guidelines of Conservation International, which is an activist on the subject of climate change (

According to CI, approximately 20% of carbon emission problems are the result of tropical deforestation, and Starbucks says that it has now supported the launch of two rainforest conservation projects in Mexico and Indonesia, adding that: “ultimately, Starbucks and CI hope to leverage their global scale to pilot such projects across all coffee growing regions - Asia-Pacific, Africa, and Latin America”.

Peter Seligmann, chairman of Conservation International, said: “Our partnership with Starbucks plays an important role in our effort to mitigate the effects of climate change in some of the most threatened areas of the world - tropical forests. By integrating the work of coffee farmers into its overall efforts to combat climate change, Starbucks is addressing head-on one of the most important issues of the day.” (

Additionally, Last October Starbucks joined forces with Oxfam, giving £100,000 to a rural region in Ethiopia where farmers suffer from poverty and drought. The money is being invested in seed, improved irrigation systems and local education programmes. And the company is offering advice on improving coffee yields. Starbucks also has a diverse-supplier policy, which it claims increases the amount of business it does with companies that are majority-owned by women, minorities or socially disadvantaged individuals (

Moreover, Starbucks was one of the first major coffee house brands to introduce 'ethical' coffee in 2002 when it offered a ...
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