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Fair Trade USA calls on consumers to help save coffee industry in peril

Mundo Novo variety

OAKLAND, Calif., U.S. — On International Coffee Day, Fair Trade USA is encouraging coffee drinkers to choose Fair Trade Certified™ options as part of its #JustOneCup campaign to help lift farmers across the world out of poverty.

Today, coffee producers (including farmers) are facing a critical crisis. Prices have collapsed below $1 per pound. The New York Coffee “C” Contract price—the benchmark for determining price between coffee producers and buyers—dropped from approximately $2 per pound in 2014 to merely $0.89 per pound in May 2019, more than a 50 percent drop and a 14-year low.

At this price, farmers are unable to cover even the most basic costs associated with coffee production. In other words, coffee at its current price means that farmers lose money with every sale, debt piles up, and communities go hungry, even when many sell their beans to the world’s best-known specialty coffee brands.

Fair Trade USA equips farmers to face these challenges as the only mainstream model that guarantees a minimum price for coffee. Despite market fluctuations, producers who sell on fair trade terms receive, at minimum, $1.40 per pound for their coffee.

And this is just the baseline. Fair Trade USA goes further by delivering an additional $0.20 per pound through its Community Development Funds, which farmers decide together how to spend to serve community needs.

In the past, for example, farmers at coffee-growing cooperatives in northern Nicaragua decided to use their Community Development Funds to purchase school supplies and invested in a scholarship program that benefits 80 children a year, reducing their community’s dropout rate. In 2018 alone, producers of Fair Trade Certified coffee earned $35 million in additional income through these funds.

Americans drink more than 400 million cups of coffee per day and can spend up to $5-6 per coffee/latte at a specialty coffee shop. The Wall Street Journal reported last year that the price of specialty coffee purchased at retail rose to $23.87 per pound, even though the composite price for coffee purchased from farmers fell to just 99 cents per pound. If this pattern continues, we’ll start to see fewer coffee-producing regions, and those specialty coffee shops will see less quality and diversity in the coffees they are able to access.

If consumers instead opt for Trade Certified coffee and demand more brands purchase on fair trade terms, they’ll help ensure producers earn at least $1.40 per pound (which is, at date of publish, 40 percent more than going market price). This vital income assurance helps them break the cycles of poverty currently crippling the industry.

Right now is a pivotal moment for brands to make a positive impact through pledging certification of fair trade coffee,” said ­­­­­­­­­­Danielle Jezienicki, Director of Corporate Social Responsibility, Williams Sonoma, Inc. “We’re proud to expand our commitment to improve the livelihoods of coffee farmers and the environment through responsible sourcing. By the beginning of 2020, all of Williams Sonoma’s branded coffee will be Fair Trade Certified.

Fair Trade USA’s #JustOneCup campaign emphasizes the dire importance of the Fair Trade Minimum Price for producers during this current coffee crisis. The campaign challenges consumers to make their daily cup of coffee a Fair Trade Certified cup, to help farmers build sustainable livelihoods.

The coffee crisis cannot be ignored. In addition to supporting a shift in coffee consumption, Fair Trade USA is also urging consumers to sign the Fair Trade Campaigns Change.org petition to hold coffee companies accountable for their role in ending this crisis by committing to minimum prices.

How to get involved:

Featured Fair Trade Certified coffee brand partners: Allegro, Laughing Man Coffee, Equator Coffee, Death Wish Coffee, Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, Brandless, Barrie House, Brooklyn Coffee.

To find all Fair Trade Certified coffee brands, see here:

Facebook: @Fairtradecertified

Instagram: @fairtradecertified

Twitter: @FairTradeCert