Friday, January 18, 2008

Corporate Responsibility - Starbucks is going the wrong way!

I just read a blog by Jesse Kornbluth about Starbucks, telling about how Starbucks has gotten too big for its britches and not earning as well as it used to. And now it's getting competition from Dunkin' Donuts and McDonalds. Kornbluth of course has some good suggestions:
Starbucks sells some "fair trade" coffee, but most isn't. Why not be the first to use only coffee that wasn't grown by exploited workers?

Starbucks should own the "organic" category. So why is Starbucks about to stop offering organic milk in its coffee drinks?
My experience with Starbucks organics and free trade has been dismal. I embarrassed my husband no end once when I asked for organic milk and the barrista didn't have a clue what I was talking about.

So then I went home to check out their website, where Corporate Social Responsibility then had a really big position on the page. It is now buried under "About Us," but it still has a lot to say about how good they are. Why isn't this evident in their coffee and milk?
Doing Business in a Different Way
Contributing positively to our communities and environment is so important to Starbucks that it’s one of the six guiding principles of our mission statement. We work together on a daily basis with partners (employees), suppliers and farmers to help create a more sustainable approach to high-quality coffee production, to help build stronger local communities, to minimize our environmental footprint and to be responsive to our customers’ health and wellness needs.
They even have a little game about sustainability you can play online.

One thing positive about Starbucks is that they at least claim to source all their milk from non-rBGH milk:
As of the beginning of January, our entire core dairy supply – fluid milk, half and half and whipping cream –is sourced from suppliers that do not use rBGH, a synthetic growth hormone. We take our customers’ requests seriously. After over a year of work with our suppliers, every espresso drink that’s ordered in our company-operated stores now comes with dairy sourced without the use of rBGH.


  • But why are they stopping organic milk, rather than increasing it, so that it's actually available to everyone - or just used always?
  • Why don't they increase their use of Free Trade coffee since they're so pround of how they work with the growers and give them a good life?

What you can do:

Read their Corporate Social Responsibility 2006 Annual Report and then give them some feedback in their survey on the same page. Be sure to write comments, because most of it is "what did you like best?"

Or go to their Contact Us page and reccommend that they do better, maybe along the line Kornbluth recommends.

1 comment:

bonbayel said...

I got this reply from Starbucks, which shows that they really don't understand what organics are all about. I will pursue this issue further. My blog entry about Green Mountain Coffee lead to at least 20people from the company reading my blog, and 2 responses from the company, so it can work.

Hello Bonnie,

Thanks so much for contacting us regarding the discontinuation of organic milk in US stores.

We began offering organic milk in 2001 as an interim solution for customers who wanted milk that was sourced without the use of rBGH. At the time, offering organic milk was the best way that we could address customer requests surrounding synthetic growth hormones used by some dairy farmers. Customer orders of drinks made with organic milk have consistently been a small percentage of total orders. With our conversion to dairy products produced without the use of rBGH, thereby eliminating the primary reason our customers ordered organic, we've decided to stop stocking organic milk in our stores. We apologize for any inconvenience.

Your feedback is very important to us, so we appreciate you taking the time to share your thoughts. I want to assure you that I've passed on your comments to the appropriate people in our company for their attention.

Thank you for contacting Starbucks. If you have any further questions or concerns, please email us via or call (800)-235-2883 to speak with a customer relations representative.

Best Regards,

Meghan M.
Customer Relations
Starbucks Coffee Company