The stats are haunting: There are 32 million slaves in the world today– more than at any time in history, including even during the trans-Atlantic slave trade.
Approximately 70 percent of the 32 million is attributed to labor trafficking. It is in the shirt you buy and the building you live in.
You might not realize it’s in the latte you drink because the person selling you the Starbucks beverage is being paid relatively well and receiving health benefits. However, if you were to take a closer look at the supply chain all the way back to the producer, that might not be the case. Coffee is produced with forced labor in Ivory Coast and Latin America, finds the U.S. Department of Labor, and with child labor in Colombia, Ivory Coast, Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Guinea, Honduras, El Salvador, Kenya, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Sierra Leone, Tanzania and Uganda.
It is highly probable that your latte has some form of exploitation because before it gets to you, it passes through a complicated value chain where there are profit maximizers at each level.
Whether it is the company that farms the coffee bean, the processing company preparing the beans for export, the freight company that transports the beans, the export agent that ships the beans, the packaging company stateside or the trucking company that transports the coffee to your local market, there is always room for error as the profit-maximizing firms can easily hide the exploitation of their workers. When you drink your latte, it is easy to forget the lives that are on the line. Continue reading…