Consumerism and altruism are finally making friends. Consumers want to feel like their spending is doing good in the world, and retailers are obliging. Recently we've seen not just high-end stores, but traditional retailers like Safeway, Kroger and Ahold making serious commitments to fair-trade sourcing.
The hospitality and restaurant industries haven't quite followed suit, however. Hotels were pioneers in conservation efforts, introducing energy- and water-saving programs before almost anyone else, observes Jennifer Gallegos, director of coffee for Fair Trade USA. "But they have been very slow to embrace fair trade," she says. "Very slow." The reasons aren't clear, but she says foodservice research firm Technomic will soon be conducting a study to find out more. Is it time for hotel and restaurant companies to start using fair-trade coffee and other products? Here's some perspective.