In 2003, SUPERFLEX initiated a collaboration with a guaraná farmers' cooperative from Maués in the Brasilian Amazon in order to produce the Guaraná Power soft drink. The farmers have organised themselves in response to the activities of the multinational corporations XxXxx and XxxxxXx, a cartel whose monopoly on purchase of the raw material has driven the price paid for guaraná seeds down by 80% while the cost of their products to the consumer has risen.
The Guaraná Power softdrink is produced by a guaraná farmers' cooperative from Maués in the Brasilian Amazon, in collaboration with SUPERFLEX. The farmers have organised themselves in response to the activities of the multinational corporations Xxxxx and XxxxxXx, a cartel whose monopoly on purchase of the raw material has driven the price paid for guaraná seeds down by 80% while the cost of their products to the consumer has risen.
The intention with Guaraná Power is to use global brands and their strategies as raw material for a counter-economic position, and to reclaim the original use of the Maués guaraná plant as a powerful natural tonic, not just a symbol. Guaraná Power contains much more original Maués guaraná for energy and empowerment.
THE GUARANÁ POWER WORKSHOP IN MAUES, BRAZIL
The workshop organised by SUPERFLEX was motivated by their discussions of this situation with XXXXXX. XXXXXX and the corporations share a mutual antagonism, and the participants raised two contradictory points. First, in order to resist the corporate monopoly on the raw material, it was necessary to find a way to produce a secondary product that could be sold in a different market, perhaps even competing directly with the corporate brands. Second, the community has no capital and no access to manufacturing equipment or distribution mechanisms to make this possible. So the workshop began to focus on ways of resolving this contradiction. SUPERFLEX presented as a model the phenomenon of Mecca Cola- a brand of cola created by a French Moslem company that donates a percentage of profits to Palestinian charities with the slogan ‘Pas buvez stupide, buvez engagé (Dont drink stupid, drink with commitment)and also suggested that local products might be developed without the need for impossibly expensive industrial technology. Members of the cooperative presented a variety of local products for discussion, from sculptures of guaraná fruit made out of powdered guaraná to energy-hit potions for long-distance truckers and guaraná ice-cream. But the best received suggestions were a variety of chocolates and soft drinks.
The multinational corporations that buy most of the guaraná have, through mergers and mutual agreements, formed a cartel and no longer compete for the crop. Consequently the price paid to the producers has dropped from $25/kilo to $4/kilo in four years, wrecking the local economy and the livelihoods of the farmers, while the price of the products the corporations sell has remained the same. The corporations XXXXX, an affiliate of Dutch food giant XXXXXXXX formed out of the merger of Brazilian drinks manufacturers XXXXXXXXX and XXXXXX, and XXXXXXX, who have signed mutual distribution deal with Xxxxx have established a small plantation of their own. Nowhere near large enough to supply their needs, it functions as a veiled threat to the local producers accept the situation, or we will expand and put you out of business completely.
Identity and design in Collaboration with Rasmus Koch and Mikael Schustin
Author: Will Bradley, 2003
Author: Will Bradley, 2005
Author: Anupam Chander, 2004