Changing Big Business

Changing Big Business

The Globalisation of the Fair Trade Movement

Anna Hutchens

Drawing on candid accounts from practitioners, producers and industry representatives, this informative and proactive volume investigates the challenges facing today’s fair trade movement and provides unique insights into the workings of social and economic power in world markets.

Introduction

Anna Hutchens

Subjects: business and management, entrepreneurship, development studies, development studies, economics and finance, international economics

Extract

Until the lions have their historians, tales of hunting will always glorify the hunter. (African Proverb) For a long time, the history of power has told of an all-powerful sovereign state and its legitimate exercise of force over a passive citizenry. While social scientists’ more modern translations maintain the hunter’s perspective, the ‘hunter’ is now the global corporation. In this narrative, citizens, producers and consumers worldwide play the perennial ‘lion’; they are mere pawns in a chess game between corporate giants. So something is amiss. Since 1997 a community of 46 000 small-scale cocoa farmers in Ghana has co-built and produced high-quality cocoa for the increasingly successful chocolate brand Divine Chocolate Ltd in the UK (and now US) market, in which they hold directorship responsibilities and own 45 per cent of the shares. Aside from their dividends, the farmers receive above-market prices for the cocoa they produce plus a social premium for community development needs and business capacity-building. Divine’s trading arm, located in the UK and now the USA, invests increasing amounts in technical assistance, using the business process as a vehicle for development and market demonstration of how ‘fair’ business can be; Divine operates in a broader context in which 14 million atomised and exploited cocoa producers fiercely compete in the global cocoa industry for declining prices from a handful of global brand multinationals including Nestlé, M&M/Mars and Cadbury. Another case is the farmer-owned fruit company, AgroFair, which sells bananas (and other fruits) under the Oké label across...