Since we are all quite educated people here, so I am sure that we have heard of this term before. So what exactly is sustainability? Or being sustainable? In terms of environment, perhaps people will think of being green, the use of technologies to improve our environment, to reduce the environment costs, switch off the lights and act together as communities.
That’s right, act together as communities. Fair trade is also part of being sustainable too, not for the environment that much (well at least short term wise No, long term there is a link to the environment) but for the workers in the LEDC (Low Economically Developed) countries. Fair trade is trading between the buyers provide better deals and greater share of the purchase price to the suppliers. Now there are hundreds of goods got certified with Fair trade international’s Fair trade certificate, coffee is one of the products that has this certificate and fair trade coffee will be this week’s topic of my blog.
According to some statistics at the beginning of 1990, the global coffee market was worth around $30 billion, which farmers received around $12 billion. In 2000, the world’s coffee market was worth around $55 billion, but the farmers were only receiving about $7 billion. This is partly because of the collapse in world’s commodity prices of coffee but to me, multinational evil empires have been exploiting the suppliers from LEDC countries since.
As consumers nowadays are generally more aware of what is going on around them and people are better educated in the more economically developed countries, the public now are more aware of where they consume goods from / the origins of the products / carbon footprint / sustainability of products. Coffee is one of the goods which you do not consume by yourself solely, as it can be something people offer to others and people do categorize / shape their mental representation of you (perceived image) base on what coffee you consume. Nestle realize the trend in the market and as the world’s leading nutrition, health and wellness organization (according to their website), they claimed that moving into fair trade is a fundamental, serious commitment to improve conditions of suppliers from LEDC countries and help the growth of the fair trade market (try to shape consumers’ mental representation here again).
In reality, it was estimated by American fair trade group Equal Exchange that Partners’ Blend (Nestle’s fair trade product line) has only got less than 1% of all Nestle’s coffee imports. If Nestle was serious about being a fair trade brand then should not it allocate more resources into being “ethical”? To me, Nestle just want to look good and try to shape consumers’ mental representations of it, perceive it as responsible, caring and socially aware brand. As result? Neslte launched Partners’ Blend at the end of 2005, but Nestle was also been voted as the world’s ‘least responsible company ‘.
Mental representation of any brands are created by consumers. Individuals have their own perceptions of brands through accumulation of experiences with the product, every touch point and every thought the customer has about the brand. Clearly Nestle messed up with shaping consumers perception badly back then.