Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Te Papa, proud supporter of Sara Lee

Te Papa, NZ's national museum, has decided to dump Cafe L'Affare as its coffee supplier, preferring to buy US made. L'Affare has supplied coffee for Te Papa's cafes and restaurants since the museum opened its doors back in the days of Shipley. That all changed when Te Papa tendered the contract by invitation to two multinationals and Cafe L'Affare. Douwe Egberts, a subsidiary of the Chicago-based Sara Lee Corporation, won the tender. A talking head at Te Papa told Capital Times that the change "was a commercial decision, and one also based on quality."

Two words can describe that response: bull and shit.

Firstly, let's examine the commercial decision. According to the Te Papa Cafe menu, a coffee will set you back $3.50. Coffee at non-taxpayer subsidised cafes range from $2.50 to $3.50, depending on how much milk goes in, so Te Papa charges well above average prices for coffee. I doubt whether Te Papa will be dropping prices now that they've sourced cheaper stuff.

If Te Papa were truly looking for a competitive deal, why tender by invitation and then only to three suppliers? L'Affare boss Tony Kerridge was also told that "price was not an issue in the decision and he doubts that Douwe Egbert can supply better coffee than local roasters."

Were Te Papa implying that Supreme, Astoria and Havana roast crap coffee and are not even worth considering? Wasn't Faggs worth giving a nudge and a wink, or did they reckon the name would put off some of the tourists? As the King of Cuba, Geoff Marsland, said:
"Coffee-wise, we are up with the best in the world. People come from Italy and go ‘shit, you have the best coffee in the world’."
Damn straight. And as far as triple bottom line reporting goes, at least Havana and Supreme actively support Fair Trade prices. Sara Lee are a bit slow on the uptake, sourcing only 10 percent of its worldwide supply from Utz Kapeh-certified beans in 2005.

All in all its a poor look for an alleged national icon. What's more, they do themselves no favour by showing what looks like airport coffee on its site: