How The Coffee Trade Has Become Fairer
(3BL Media/Justmeans) – The Fair Trade Certified seal is probably one of the most recognizable certifications consumers look for when purchasing ethical goods. There is a wide range of certified products available, most visibly in the garment and food/beverage sectors.
Coffee is one of the key markets in which Fair Trade USA, the leading certifying body of its kind in North America, operates. Smallholder coffee farmers in producing countries have benefitted immensely from the initiative.
Fair Trade USA’s Senior Manager of Supply Chain, Colleen Anunu, estimates that, between 1998 and 2016, coffee producers around the world benefitted from around $370 million from fair trade’s minimum price and premium, which ethical consumers are happy to cover so they can stir a bit of peace of mind into their coffee.
Higher prices have enabled producers to organize themselves better, get better training and empower women working in coffee crops, besides helping them cope with the challenges brought about by climate change.
In fact, climate change is already affecting coffee crops. The year 2014 was when the the coffee leaf rust crisis peaked, with a devastating impact on crops in El Salvador, Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras and other places. To help producers manage the situation, Fair Trade USA created a Rust Response Fund to help farmers replant, maintain and retrain to deal with the issue.
Fair Trade USA has also teamed up with social lender Oikocredit to launch a price-risk management project for Latin American coffee cooperatives so they can deal with the disadvantages imposed by pre-fixed prices set by buyers and roasters. This standard arrangement means that, if market prices later happen to be higher, the cooperative cannot buy from its members as much coffee as originally planned. The project gives partners the safety net they need to protect coffee price fluctuation and ensure farmers’ livelihood is not impacted.
Image credit: Fair Trade USA