By Cliff Peale
The Cincinnati Enquirer
Procter & Gamble Co. is launching its first line of high-end coffee certified to ensure that small coffee growers in Latin America can earn a living from their product. Beans for the new Millstone Mountain Moonlight Fair Trade Certified brand are grown by a coffee farmer cooperative in Mexico, P&G said Monday.
The product, available starting today, online and through a toll-free telephone number, will cost $8.99 for a 10-ounce bag, compared to about $6.99 for P&G specialty brand Millstone, a spokeswoman said. Growers will receive $1.26 per pound, roughly double the market average.
The product could soon end up on store shelves if sales support it, spokeswoman Tonia Hyatt said. "Consumers will decide," she said. The average national retail price for ground roast coffee was $2.94 per pound in July, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That puts the new product at the upper end of the consumer market.
Still, the new coffee line highlights a trend toward products tailored for socially conscious consumers. The fair-trade coffee movement in recent years has pressured coffee manufacturers to ensure that small farmers aren't driven out of business by low prices, which have dropped by nearly half during the past three years. Starbucks Coffee Co. began selling fair-trade coffee in its stores in 2000.
Paul Rice, president and chief executive officer of TransFair USA, which certifies fair-trade coffee, said farming families would benefit from Millstone's decision. "Fair trade certified coffees are a guarantee of quality - a great cup of coffee for consumers, a better life for farmers and the opportunity for businesses with a vision to make a difference," Rice said in a news release. Most of the world's coffee beans are grown in economically emerging regions.
P&G on Monday also announced two other blends, Millstone Cup of Excellence Signature Roast - which will cost about $12.99 for a 10-ounce bag - and Millstone Rainforest Alliance Certified Signature Roast - priced at about $8.99. The Rainforest Alliance certifies companies that meet certain environmental standards in production of coffee beans.
Millstone Mountain Moonlight is available at www.millstone.com and (800) 729-5282 (SAY JAVA).
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