Producers & Products

Coffee

By choosing Fairtrade coffee you’re supporting more than 750,000 coffee farmers to thrive in an unstable market by earning a decent income, protecting their local environment, and investing in their farms and communities.

“Climate change will affect the life of the community around, especially small-holder farmers, because they experience the same: They will not get enough coffee, and coffee generates income for other economic purposes, such as school fees for those who are taking their children to school and even for staple food. They don’t have other commodities. Climate change has affected coffee and maize. It is affecting everybody.”

Elizabeth Chepkwony, Chairlady of Kabngetuny Women in Coffee in Kenya

All About Coffee

Coffee is the most valuable and widely traded tropical agricultural product with around 125 million people dependent on it for their livelihoods.

80% of the world’s coffee is grown by smallholder farmers, many of whom struggle to earn a reliable living as a result of price volatility. The price of coffee changes on average every three minutes. Usually the volatility in coffee pricing is due to weather events in a producing country, fluctuations in currency valuations, or the basic dynamics of supply and demand.

While the global coffee industry now generates more than $200 billion per year, the average farmer’s income has not changed in the past 20 years – or has actually declined when taking into account higher farming costs.

Apart from the obvious economic implications of low prices for coffee farming families, there are significant ripple effects: increased child and forced labor, decreased environmental stewardship, food insecurity, increasing rates of migration and lower coffee quality. Farmers unable to meet their basic costs of production can’t invest in the necessary farm renovations or meticulous processing methods that can ensure a consistent supply of quality coffee, which further hurts their sales. This cycle of poverty is driving away both present and future generations of coffee farmers – a dynamic we need to address if coffee is to survive as a viable business.

Coffee producer – Felicita Castilla working at her field in San Miguel del Faique, Piura, Peru © The Fairtrade Foundation / Eduardo Martino

Fairtrade is the only global sustainability label that guarantees a Minimum Price for coffee. The minimum price acts as a safety net for farmers against price volatility. Fairtrade certified coffee cooperatives currently earn the Fairtrade Minimum Price of $1.40 per pound or $1.70 per pound for organic. On top of that, they earn $0.20 per pound in Fairtrade Premium, of which at least 25 percent is invested in productivity and quality initiatives. Co-ops invest the rest in projects of their choice, ranging from processing facilities to community healthcare.

Everyone has a role to play in the sustainability and continuity of the coffee sector. Coffee companies have to step up and pay a fair price for their beans. Consumers can show their support by buying Fairtrade and insisting on a fairer deal for coffee farmers.

Unless there’s a good business case for those at the very beginning of the coffee supply chain, we will all have to bear some responsibility for the decline of coffee. Farmers need to be able to sustain production in harmony with the natural environment, while having the means to secure the basic necessities of life. If they can’t, they simply can’t continue.

How Fairtrade Works

Strength in Cooperatives of Small-Scale Farmers

Unlike some other coffee certifications, Fairtrade only certifies small-scale farmers, not industrial-scale plantations. Farmers work together in cooperatives which are organized democratically. This has many advantages: greater bargaining power, the ability to make joint purchases, easier access to finance, mutual learning, and information exchange.

Stable Income

The combination of the Fairtrade Minimum Price and Premium means farmers earn a more stable and sustainable income, allowing them to maintain their businesses and households, and plan for the future.

Fairtrade Standards

Fairtrade’s strong economic, social and environmental Standards are a key factor in making value chains work for small farmers and workers, increasing transparency and accountability, and helping protect the most vulnerable against trade-related exploitation.

Producer Network Support

The Fairtrade Producer Networks offer direct support to farmers and workers through more than 150 field staff based in Asia, Africa, and Latin America.

Adaptation to a Changing Climate

Fairtrade supports coffee cooperatives through the Implementation of projects related to climate change mitigation and adaptation, and improving sustainable agricultural practises. For example, the NAPP climate school, which was launched in a number of Asian countries in 2019.

Gender Equality

The Producer Networks support programs to improve the position of women on coffee farms, including management training. For example, the Women in Coffee project at Kabng’etuny Cooperative  in Kenya.

Next Generation

Investment in business skills and leadership training for youth allows them to remain on their family farms and maintain them as viable businesses, rather than abandoning farms and migrating for work. CLAC led a climate change project for young people in Bolivia.

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