In the past few years, there has been a lot of speculation on companies’ labor and environmental standards. Consumers are finding it more and more important to buy from companies that are responsible with their resources and that are careful not to exploit developing countries and low wage workers. Corporate responsibility is a term that is often used to describe these obligations that corporations have to workers and their families, to consumers, to investors, and to the natural environment. Since this has become more of a priority worldwide, it has exposed several companies that have taken advantage of workers and the environment in the past. Luckily, many companies are making a big effort to improve their standards.
Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream is one company that is making its corporate responsibility efforts known. They have always had an emphasis on community involvement, and now they are involved in becoming entirely Fair trade. This means that all of their products will be made with produce that is up to The Fairtrade Labeling Organization International (FLO) standards. FLO is headquartered in Germany and has the goal of helping set fair price and quality standards for farmers all over the world. Businesses are taking interest in Fairtrade labels in order to show customers their dedication to fair labor and better standards for food producers worldwide. The partnership between consumers and producers that they stimulate will lead to better wages for producers in the developing world.
Ben & Jerry’s is planning to be 100% Fair trade by 2013. This will make them the first ice cream brand in the world to do this. The Fairtrade logo on the Ben & Jerry’s ice creams ensures their customers that their products have been made from produce that the farmer was paid a fair price for. Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, the co-founders of Ben & Jerry’s, find Fair trade so important because they believe that “nobody wants to buy something that was made by exploiting somebody else.” Products that have the Fair trade label have the guarantee that this is not the case. Many companies in the past have taken advantage of farmers, but now that there are options like Fair trade, customers will be able to recognize which products have been produced with fair standards.
Farmers in Kenya and in other African nations working with Fair trade have already seen the benefits of this partnership. Fair trade has helped these farmers to increase their profits and provide a better living for their families. There are already 53 different producers in Kenya alone working with Fair trade. Because Fair trade sets minimum standards for prices on produce that buyers must pay and quality standards for farmers, both parties benefit by receiving fair wages and good products. This has created higher trade standards and exposed those companies that are still taking advantage of farmers. Fair trade will be implemented in Europe by 2011 and will continue to assist farmers and trade worldwide. Eventually, it is hoped that there will be international standards for price that all buyers must meet to ensure the livelihood of farmers in developing countries.