Remedy to Injustice Faced by Coffee Stakeholders Essay Example

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Remedy to Injustice Faced by Coffee Stakeholders

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Remedy to Injustice Faced by Coffee Stakeholders


Coffee follows oil as the second most traded product in the entire worlds and it is estimated that about 1.6 billion cups are consumed on a daily basis across the globe. It also has a significant retail value of more than US$ 50 billion every year. Some of the leading coffee producing countries include Brazil, Columbia, and Ethiopia. Even though coffee industry is doing well globally, it is associated with labor injustice, especially against the small-scale farmers who produce more than 80% of coffee that is consumed in the entire world (Geereddy, 2013). Coffee production is associated with forced labor, child labor, and exploitation of small-scale farmers who are estimated to be 25 million.

Therefore, there is a significant level of labor injustice in the coffee industry. More than 25 million small-scale coffee growers receive about 7% of what the final consumers pays, which means that even if the labor exploitation is reduced coffee growers are still going to be exploited. People working in coffee plantation are paid about $3 a day and they are still forced to pick about 100 pounds a day to earn that exploitative pay. As a result, the families are forced to bring their children a long to help them meet the requirements. The best remedy for the labor injustice in the coffee industry is effective implementation of the fair trade among the key stakeholders involved (Geereddy, 2013). Key stakeholders who can help in the in the implementation of the trade fair include the government, retailers, buyers, importer, and exporters. However, retailers and buyers are best placed to ensure success of the free trade option.

The essay, therefore, primarily focuses on the labor injustice in the coffee industry. It first relates Ruggie’s Framework with the proposed remedy where it focuses on retailers and wholesaler as the coffee industry stakeholders who can correct the injustice even though they are not directly linked to the labor injustice. Even though the Retailers and controller depend on the main suppliers in the industry, they still have powers to ensure that coffee workers get fair wages by ensuring that they only procure fair trade coffee. The essay also focuses on ethics theories, especially utilitarianism and deontology theories because they are linked with the injustice. Finally, the essay focuses on the remedies by looking at the fair trade coffee as the best remedy because it ensures sustainability. Other remedies discussed in the essay focuses on role of civil society in ensuring that coffee growers and workers get justice.

It is the responsibility of every stakeholder involved in the coffee industry to ensure that the rights of every player is respected, especially the marginalized. One of the ways that the key stakeholders involved in the supply chain can ensure that every right is protected is through due diligence, which can give them the opportunity to identify the risks and find a possible remedies to mitigate them or reduce the injustices that occur along the supply chain system. In the coffee industry, those who can help in ensuring due diligence are the retailers and wholesalers because they decide on the final consumption of goods and services.

Even though the retailers and wholesalers are not involved in the labor injustices in the coffee industry and they are only part of it due to coffee that they procure from the supply chain, they still have a way of mitigating the injustice, as they are able to influence the final consumers (Pritchard, 2010). In addition, they are able to influence the performance of coffee brands that are available in the market. Therefore, the retailers can mitigate the labor injustices in the coffee industry by ensuring that the supply chain entity respects human rights.

One of the way thats can ensure that the supply chain entity respect human right is by signing contract provisions that ensure that supply chain entity respects labor rights of the coffee farmers. However, contact provisions may no effective way of mitigation labor injustice in the industry because they are only signed documents. Therefore, the most effective way of correcting the labor injustice is the procurement of the trade fair products, which ensures that coffee growers get their rightful dues. Other remedies include coming up with movements that champion the rights of coffee farmers, enabling coffee growers to access the market, encouraging coffee farmer and workers to form cooperatives, and educating coffee planting communities about the importance of respecting rights of children.

Even though there is relatively large number of coffee in the market, the industry is dominated by five main companies which include Kraft, Nestle, Proctor and Gamble, Sera-lee, and Tchibo. These are well-known in the market and many consumers are loyal to them, which may force the retailers and wholesalers to stock them to attract customers. Therefore, the relationship between the supply chain and retailer and wholesalers is crucial. However, the hands of wholesalers and retailers are not fully tied because they still have the opportunity to ensure that the rights of coffee laborers are respected by the supply chain entity Neilson, J. and (Pritchard, 2010). Therefore, they still have the leverage in the supply chain, which they can use to ensure justice in the coffee industry. They can involve government agencies and other private organizations that deal with the trade fair to mitigate the labor injustice in the coffee industry. Even though their relationship with supply chain entity is crucial, they still have leverage to ensure justice.

There are a number of theories explain the labor injustice in the coffee industry. However, the most relevant theories that apply to the case are the utilitarianism and deontology theories. The main proponents of utilitarianism theory are Jeremy Bentham and J.S. Mill who argued that what makes something right or wrong is the pleasure that it produces among a large number of people (Shafer-Landau, 2012). Immanuel Kant and W.D. Ross are also the main proponents of deontology theory, which basically states that what makes a thing right or wrong is because it conforms to some duties. Therefore, the theories can be used to explain the injustice and the suggested remedy, the trade fair.

There are a number of principles associated with utilitarianism theory. First, a person or entity should strive to maximize positive results for a huge number of persons, and negative results to a small number of people. Secondly, an individual should ensures that he select the action that can lead to greatest happiness (Shafer-Landau, 2012). The final principle states that the pleasure and pain only accounts as much as the other individual affected. Therefore, the supply chain in the coffee industry should strive towards maximizing positive results, creating greatest happiness among coffee growers, and they should minimize the pain of the stakeholders involved in coffee production, especially workforce in the coffee plantations. Any action that maximizes utility is expected to maximize the benefits by reducing pain of the large number of people. The trade fair option in reducing labor injustice in the coffee industry will ensure happiness to large number of people, about 25 million coffee growers and their families (Kissiah, 2014). It will lead to greatest happiness among coffee growers and their families and it is more moral because of the large number of people who will be impacted positively.

According to the proponents of utilitarian theory, the primary basis of morality is happiness and everyone is striving towards it (Vaughn, 2015). Any human action is geared towards achieving happiness, as it is what they are yearning for in life. Every right is only necessary when it brings human happiness because justice is about establishing happiness for the victims or the affected people. Therefore, the trade fair is the best remedy according to the utilitarianism theory because it creates higher utility and happiness to millions of coffee growers and laborers who are exploited.

Deontology, on the other hand, is based on the rightness or wrongness of any action, but not the rightness or wrongness of effects or consequences of actions that have been taken (Hooker, 2012). Therefore, what makes an action right or wrong depends on its conformity morals that are put in place. The theory, therefore, is in the line of the proposed remedy in this essay because people buy the trade fair products because it is morally right to do so and not because of the benefits they are likely to get. By buying trade fair coffee, one knows that he supports the right of a laborer who has been exploited by other players in the coffee industry.

The two other types of deontology theory are natural right theory contractarian ethics. According to natural right theory, human beings possess absolute natural rights, which are not contingent to human action. Contactarian ethics, on the other hand states that a moral act is one that everyone agrees with if there is biasness and that moral rules are more of a contract where only the people who understands and accepts them abide by them (Ulen, 2015). The same arguments hold for the use of the trade fair coffee because only people who believe in social justice are bound to buy them. There is high chance that the trade faire coffee will be relatively expensive compared to the normal ones in the markets and only people who value justice can make a step further to buy them. Deontology theory, therefore, supports the use of the trade fair as a remedy to labor injustice in the coffee industry.

One of the primary remedy to the labor injustice in the coffee industry is the promotion of consumption of fair trade coffee in the market. The fair trade is geared toward solving the injustice and inequality that exists between coffee farmers and other players who benefit the hard labor of the small-scale coffee growers (Fridell, 2014). The remedy is the most effective way of mitigating the labor injustice in the coffee industry because as much as it ensure justice and protect coffee growers, it also opens new markets, especially among consumers who believe in social justice and protection of human rights. It is therefore a long term solution to the labor injustice in the industry and it will ensure that they get their rightful dues from their hard labor.

The fair trade option to solve the labor injustice ensure that coffee workers get better wages and because farmers will be in a better position to get fair prices for their produce. Consequently, there will be a reduction in the exploitation of people working in coffee plantations (Jaffee, 2014). In addition, increased wages will be sufficient to cater for the basic needs of the families depending on coffees, which will reduce child labor. The ethical certification of the fair trade coffee also enables other parties in the supply chain like retailers to ensure that standards are met. However, the remedy will be more fruitful if the final consumers are informed of the meaning of fair trade coffee and they internalize (Van der Vossen, 2005). Otherwise they will assume that it is one of the marketing strategies used by retailers to attract more customers. Therefore, the use of fair trade coffee should involve all stakeholders, including consumers.

The most important information that should be passed to consumers is that buying fair trade coffee does not mean that they are donating some money to help the marginalized coffee farmers. They should made to understand that buying fair trade coffee is simply doing the right thing and being moral and sensitive to the marginalized coffee farmers (Bacon, 2008). Even though the demand for fair trade coffee is still low, it can be enhanced by creating consumer awareness of the moral importance of buying the product. Retailers can also play an active role in ensuring its success by emphasize the need for fair trade coffee to the suppliers. They can use their market power to influence the increase in the consumption of fair trade coffee.

Apart from the fair trade coffee, the civil society can also play a crucial role in mitigating the labor injustice the coffee industry by coming up with programs and movements that support the right of the people working in coffee plantation. First, it can come up with programs that support coffee growers to access the market where they can sell their produce at better terms, leading to more profits (Bacon, 2008). It can also encourage coffee farmers to form cooperatives, which they can use to improve their economies of scale in the coffee industry. Cooperatives will unite coffee farmers, which they can use to bargain for better payment. In addition, it can educate coffee communities about the rights of children and the importance of education in their lives. When coffee farmers get better prices for their produce they will increase wages for the people working in their coffee plantations.


In conclusion, coffee industry is one of the industries that are performing well in the global market, but there is increased poverty among the people working in those plantations due to exploitations. They are overworked while at the same time they get meager payment that cannot meet their basic needs. However, retailers and wholesalers can play a significant role in ensuring that the labor injustice in the coffee industry is corrected by ensuring that they only procure fair trade coffee from other supply chain entities. The Unitarianism and deontology are the ethical theories that best explain the labor injustice in the coffee industry and the proposed remedies because they talk of the greatest happiness among the large number of people and moral duty of the society respectively. The best solution to the injustice is promotion of fair trade coffee in the global market because it has a long term and sustainable solution to the injustice. The civil society also should ensure that coffee growers and laborers get better terms in the market by establishing movements that champion for the rights of coffee workers and they should also ensure that coffee growers access the market to reduce their exploitation in the coffee market. Even though fair trade coffee is the main remedy to the labor injustice in the coffee industry, its implementation has been a challenge. Therefore, the future research should focus on the best way to implement fair trade coffee for it to ensure that it benefit coffee workers and growers.

Reference List

Bacon, M., ed. 2008. Confronting the coffee crisis fair trade, sustainable livelihoods and ecosystems in Mexico and Central America.Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Fridell, G., 2014. Fair trade slippages and Vietnam gaps: the ideological fantasies of fair trade coffee. Third World Quarterly, 35(7), pp.1179-1194.

Geereddy, N., 2013. Strategic Analysis Of Starbucks Corporation.

Hooker, B. ed., 2012. Developing deontology: new essays in ethical theory (Vol. 14). John Wiley & Sons.

Jaffee, D., 2014. Brewing justice: Fair trade coffee, sustainability, and survival. Univ of California Press.

Kissiah, C.J., 2014. The Deontological and Utilitarian Cases for Rectifying Structural Injustice in Sweatshop Labor Ethics: A Critical Assessment.

Neilson, J. and Pritchard, B., 2010. Fairness and ethicality in their place: the regional dynamics of fair trade and ethical sourcing agendas in the plantation districts of South India. Environment and planning. A, 42(8), p.1833.

Shafer-Landau, R. ed., 2012. Ethical theory: an anthology (Vol. 13). John Wiley & Sons.

Ulen, T.S., 2015. 11 Law and economics, the moral limits of the market, and threshold deontology. Law and Economics: Philosophical Issues and Fundamental Questions, p.203.

Van der Vossen, H.A.M., 2005. A critical analysis of the agronomic and economic sustainability of organic coffee production. Experimental agriculture, 41(04), pp.449-473.

Vaughn, L., 2015. Doing ethics: Moral reasoning and contemporary issues. WW Norton & Company.

Appendix 1

Supply Chain Relationship

2. Wholesalers

1. Retailers

Supply chain identified

3. Brokers

2. Importers

1. Exporters

Unidentified supply chain entities

  1. Fair trade coffee suppliers

Potential new supply chain entities

Action: conduct due diligence

Q: Are adverse impacts occurring through these specific relationships?

Submitted by Names:

Q: Are there general risk of serious adverse impact occurring through?

Q: Are these entities responsible for adverse effect?

Submitted by Names: 1

Submitted by Names: 2

Action: Repeat DD periodically and ensure own action do not contribute to potential adverse effects.

Submitted by Names: 3

Action: Seek to mitigate the risk

Q: Are we contributing to the impact by our own actions and omission?

Submitted by Names: 4Submitted by Names: 5

The appropriate response is to ensure that supply chain entity respect the rights of coffee workers by supplying fair trade coffee.

Appendix 2

Supply Chain in the Coffee Industry

Coffee Farmers and workers (Beginning of labor injustice)

Coffee Buyers: buy coffee growers and sell to the larger market

Submitted by Names: 6

Processors (Child labor and labor injustice is common her)

Submitted by Names: 7

Exporters (purchase processed coffee)

Submitted by Names: 8

Coffee Brokers

Submitted by Names: 9

Importers: sell to distributors

Submitted by Names: 10

Distributors: supply retailers with coffee,

Submitted by Names: 11

Retailers: Sell to the final consumers

Submitted by Names: 12


Submitted by Names: 13