Nestlé and Jacobs Douwe Egberts are two of the biggest coffee companies across the globe right now, and Brazil is the largest exporter of coffee in the world. Sadly, working conditions in Brazil are anything but ethical, is your morning cup of Joe worth it?
According to these two companies, they may be using beans that are coming from slave labor plantations as they do not know the names of all of the plantations that supply them. Personally, I find that to be a bit odd, why wouldn’t you have a list of all the names of your suppliers? Regardless of who you buy through you should be able to obtain a complete list. DanWatch report says that workers in Brazil often face things like debt bondage, exposure to deadly pesticides, lack of protective equipment, non-existent work contracts, and accommodation without doors, mattresses, or drinking water.
These companies also buy some of their beans from middlemen and exporters in a supply chain muddle. These companies admit that they cannot rule out slavery like conditions, but because of the way they buy, they can still claim to not buy beans from blacklisted plantations where human rights abuses are known to happen. Jacobs Douwe Egberts told the Guardian that they took the allegations from DanWatch very seriously and claimed to be concerned.
DanWatch spent eight weeks investigating the industry itself, inspecting plantations and tracing beans through a complicated supply chain. Nestlé confirmed to DanWatch that it did buy coffee from two plantations where workers were rescued from forced labor by Brazilian authorities just this past summer. That being said they have suspended deliveries pending the investigation into this.
While both of these companies have ethical codes in place that are supposed to help protect the human rights of their workers and ban suppliers who are using child or forced labor things are falling through the cracks. Jacobs Douwe Egberts claims to have notified suppliers to not obtain coffee from known violators.
“We do not tolerate violations of labor rights and have strongly maintained that forced labor has no place in our supply chain. Unfortunately, forced labor is an epidemic problem in Brazil and no company sourcing coffee and other ingredients from the country can fully guarantee that it has completely removed forced labor practices for human rights abuses from its supply chain.”
In case you were wondering a Brazilian coffee worker gets paid about two dollars each time a sixty-liter sack of coffee is filled, these people get less than two percent of the retail price this coffee goes for. Workers are having to go through so much just to get by and in the end, they aren’t really even getting by.