- Brazil Labor Ministry investigators have raided the Córrego das Almas farm in Piumhi, in rural Minas Gerais state, and rescued 18 workers who were laboring on coffee plantations in conditions analogous to slavery.
The Córrego das Almas farm holds the C.A.F.E. Practices certification, owned by Starbucks in partnership with SCS Global Services. After hearing of the raid, the two companies responsible for issuing the seal said they would review the farm’s quality certificate. Starbucks says it hasn’t bought coffee from the farm in recent years.
The farm also holds the UTZ seal, a Netherlands-based sustainable farming certificate prized by the coffee industry. That seal of approval was suspended after the certifier was questioned by Repórter Brasil regarding the Ministry of Justice investigation.
Another inspection in Minas Gerais, in the town of Muzambinho, rescued 15 workers in conditions analogous to slavery from a farm owned by Maria Júlia Pereira, the sister-in-law of a state deputy, Emidinho Madeira.
It's worth being clear here that the scale is not a Starbucks specific problem. It's an industry wide issue, encompassing importers/exporters, farms, certification bodies (see: UTZ), and coffee roasters worldwide.