Anglican Samizdat

July 4, 2009

Canadian Primate Fred Hiltz, the coffee bean merchant

Filed under: Anglican — David Jenkins @ 2:54 pm

As part of the Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund (PWRDF) – the bastion of Anglican Marxist chic – Fred Hiltz is peddling Primate’s Blend Fair Trade Coffee. On first blush one might be tempted to rejoice that Hiltz has given up on theology – as it has given up on him – and gone into the more honest occupation of coffee planting, preferably near some remote and humid Colombian rain forest where he would be free to meditate on his minuscule carbon footprint. No such luck; this is more about Fair Trade than coffee.

Introducing The Primate’s Blend – a uniquely blended, shade-grown, organic, Fair Trade coffee. Shade-grown coffees trees are grown under a shade canopy that is made up of a variety of trees; there are often companion plantings of tropical fruit trees. This means the plantations use a minimum of water and support local and migrating bird populations. These coffees are certified organic.

Is Hiltz striking a blow for justice as I am sure he would like us to think, or is this an elitist liberal decoy, requiring no effort, and having little effect other than soothing  the delicate consciences of effete coffee swilling bishops?

Some claim it’s worse: Fair Trade is damaging to those it claims to help:

A number of interventionist initiatives have been launched or proposed in response to the coffee

market’s perceived breakdown. The best known is the “fair trade” coffee campaign, in which roasters and retailers are pressured by activist groups to sell coffee grown under specified conditions and purchased at above-market prices.

However well-intentioned, interventionist schemes to lift prices above market levels ignore those market realities. Accordingly, they are doomed to end in failure—or to offer cures that are worse than the disease. There are constructive measures that can help to ease the plight of struggling coffee farmers, but they consist of efforts to improve the market’s performance— not block it or demonize it.


Unfair Trade argues that for all its good intentions, Fairtrade is not fair. Firstly, by guaranteeing certified farmers a minimum price for their goods, it can distort local markets leaving other farmers even worse off. Secondly, only about 10 percent of the premium paid by consumers actually makes it to the producer, which makes it an inefficient way of helping the poor. Most importantly, Fairtrade does little to aid economic development, focusing instead on sustaining farmers in their current state.

Poor Hiltz, he can’t even get his coffee right.



  1. Come on, David – your source is the Cato Center for policy studies, whose aim is:

    “The mission of the Center is to increase public understanding of the benefits of free trade and the costs of protectionism.”

    Hardly an unbiased source of information

    Comment by Kate — July 4, 2009 @ 8:45 pm

  2. I bet ++Fred’s coffee puts you to sleep just like his sermons.

    Comment by Toral — July 5, 2009 @ 8:48 am

  3. Let’s face it, initiatives like Fair Trade are not to be judged on their actual positive impact on the poor, they are designed to make “fat” North Americans feel less guilty about their life style.

    Comment by Jim Muirhead — July 5, 2009 @ 12:33 pm

  4. I think you all are writing fair trade off too quickly, myself.

    Comment by Kate — July 5, 2009 @ 1:44 pm

  5. My experience with “Fair Trade” was in the eastern Arctic where Canadian Arctic Producers were supposed to help the Inuit artists get more for their work. If they got a dime on a dollar they were lucky. I really don’t trust Fair Trade and Organic as truth in advertising.

    In reverse credit to Mennonite Central Committee who ship some of their own grain at their expense direct to those in need.

    Comment by Steve L. — July 5, 2009 @ 3:29 pm

  6. […] The rest is here. […]

    Pingback by Fred Hiltz drives another one into the rough. « Sleepy Old Bear Diaries — July 5, 2009 @ 3:44 pm

  7. I happened to be a parishioner at a parish where a Dean’s Conference was being held one year within the not-too-distant past. Couldn’t help but notice that of this large gaggle of Deans (and their spouses), most supported by very well-off congregations, not a single one stopped at our parish fundraising table — fundraising for a specific and admirable project — to buy even a single package of Fair Trade coffee we had for sale, or anything else for that matter. Of those I encountered there, I came away thinking of them as pompous skinflints who were welching on their hosts’ hospitality. Probably saved their pennies for a night on the town. I was more than a little taken aback.

    Comment by Ann — August 14, 2009 @ 11:28 am

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