Tuesday 28 June 2022

Investigating the true costs of sustainable coffee production

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Fair-trade certification gives consumers peace of mind that the products they are buying meet certain standards of fairness for the workers and growers who produced them.

But that certification doesn’t always guarantee a fair price for smaller producers, particularly coffee growers, who often bear many hidden expenses.

Thanks to recent venture funding, a Cornell research team that includes Professor Gilly Leshed hopes to bring transparency to the fair-trade coffee industry and lead to more informed production decisions.

Working with Fair Trade USA and coffee co-ops, the team – which includes Miguel Gómez and Joshua Woodard of Cornell’s Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management – will collect real-world production costs of sustainable coffee and build an online, “coffee calculator” to compare costs of production systems.

According to the research team, this coffee calculator “will be a step toward informed production decisions and a more inclusive, environmentally sound coffee industry.”

Cornell’s Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future awarded the proceeds through its Academic Venture Fund, which provides more than $1 million annually to Cornell-based projects aimed at sustainable solutions. See all 14 funding recipients here.

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