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Jun 19: Something New is Brewing at Vancity...

Something New is Brewing at Vancity

Vancouver, June 19, 2000 - There's something new percolating at Vancity Credit Union. All Vancity coffee makers are now brewing fair trade, organic coffee.

At Vancity's 1999 annual general meeting, a member resolution was passed urging the credit union to support co-operative ventures in developing countries by purchasing fairly traded products, particularly coffee, whenever possible. In response to this resolution, Vancity worked with its supplier, Arbuckle Coffee, to create a new product line of fair trade, organic coffee for its internal beverage service at all Vancity locations.

"The purchase of fairly-traded organic coffee is a concrete example of Vancity's commitment to corporate social responsibility in our purchasing decisions," said Kathy Stevenson, vice president of finance and administration. "Vancity worked with our supplier to source a product that met both our service and price specifications, and social and environmental objectives."

While high quality coffee is expensive in North America, many of the world's 10 million coffee farmers live in extreme poverty. Only about 10 per cent of the retail price for coffee reaches the farmers who grow and harvest the beans, with the balance going to local coffee sellers and companies that import and retail the beans. Modernized coffee production also has significant negative environmental impacts, including deforestation, soil erosion, and toxic run-off from pesticide misuse.

Fair trade certification ensures that small coffee farmers in developing countries are paid a fair price for their product, which in turn allows them to better support themselves and their families. Organic farming methods eliminate pesticide and chemical fertilizer use in the growing of coffee, contributing to a cleaner, safer environment.

Vancity is Canada's largest credit union, with $6.4 billion in assets, 262,000 members and 39 branches throughout Greater Vancouver, the Fraser Valley and Victoria. Vancity owns Citizens Bank of Canada, serving members across the country by telephone, ATM, and the Internet. Both Vancity and Citizens Bank are guided by a commitment to corporate social responsibility.