Wal-Mart Considering Fair Trade Coffee

Poco Fundo

The Washington Post reported yesterday that Wal-Mart is sending an exploratory team to Poco Fundo, Brazil, to expand its sales of Bom Dia coffee, a Brazilian fair trade-certified brand currently offered by Sam’s Club.

I am encouraged by Wal-Mart’s consideration of fair trade coffee. Rosevaldo Jose Pereira, the coffee farmer in question, is reportedly looking forward to hosting Wal-Mart’s visit but undecided about his answer. I am concerned about:

  1. Price transparency. Fair-trade beans are sold at a minimum of $1.26 per pound, compared with the world average last month of 90 cents. What is Wal-Mart’s proposed price structure
  2. Contractual terms. If Wal-Mart’s numbers do not pan out, causing it to drop Bom Dia at a whim, the effect could be devastating.
  3. Greenwashing. I am glad that fair trade and organic fare have been in the recent spotlight. How much of Wal-Mart's coffee will be fair-trade certified?

However, beyond the numbers, which I completely understand is a basic and pertinent business driver, fair trade is about relationships. Therefore, I hope that Wal-Mart’s executives will find the courage and integrity to honor the market prowess and capitalization they represent.

My Point Being?
Pereira would ideally be offered a fair deal without feeling like it is 'an offer he can't refuse' and that the deal be cut in an open and honest fashion with all the cards on the table.