Since market liberalisation in the 1970s, control of the world’s coffee stocks has been entirely in the hands of large international traders. Farmers have suffered from prolonged periods of prices below the cost of production – meaning little incentive (or means) to maintain their trees or develop their farms, let alone to keep themselves and their families clothed, housed, fed, and in good health.
As a result, growing coffee is not a viable option for many next-generation farmers and won’t be unless a greater proportion of western profit margins are shared with the coffee farmer. The fair trade coffee movement, which began in the late 1980s, is committed to providing security and dignity to our coffee farmers, which will ultimately allow them to work in a sustainable way, ensuring a long-term quality coffee supply.
While paying a fair, negotiated price directly to farmers via a democratically structured co-operative is the linchpin, fair trade principles also ask that traders and roasters:
• Buy from the same cooperatives regularly, giving farmers security beyond a single year, critical for planning and development
• Paying up to 60 percent of the contract price up-front so that cooperatives have the funds to pay farmers and avoid the high interest rates that can undo the gains made by good prices paid by traders
• Pay a social premium to the co-op of 20c a pound, for community development
• Support organic and agronomic practices
• Establish direct, transparent and respectful relationships, aiming for a long-term, equal partnership of traders and farmers
• Educate staff and customers on fair trade ethics and practices
Having been a 100% fair trade business since 2004, Peoples Coffee now more than ever believes that these principles are crucial if we are to see a viable future for quality coffee supply.
Each cup of fair trade coffee that you drink goes a long way in benefiting the communities that provide the beans for it.