MEXICO CITY — The executive committee of the World Coffee Producers Forum (WCPF) met in Mexico City on 8 and 12 April, 2018, where the International Coffee Council was also meeting, to analyse and discuss topics concerning the sustainability of the global coffee value chain.
A particular focus was the constant decrease in the income of coffee growers during the past three decades, which compromises their economic sustainability. The devastating consequences of the current coffee prices on producers drew special attention.
Among the topics discussed was the need to take serious actions to improve producers’ income, through joint work with the rest of the supply chain on initiatives that will translate into actions to, among other outcomes, expand consumption, increase coffee prices, address the consequences of climate change and enhance productivity in coffee producing countries.
As agreed during its last meeting in Colombia in July 2017, the WCPF commissioned Professor Jeffrey Sachs (Special Advisor to the United Nations General Secretary on the Sustainability Development Goals and director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University), to conduct research in Economic and Policy Analysis for Improving Smallholder Coffee Producers’ Incomes.
The initial structure of the study was presented by Professor Sachs to the delegates of the International Coffee Organization (ICO) gathered in Mexico, and partial results and findings will be presented in September 2018 and March 2019. The final report will be presented at the 2nd World Coffee Producers Forum in July, 2019.
The representatives of the WCPF will ask the ICO to play a key role to implement some of the initiatives, such as promotion of consumption in producing countries and emerging markets and facilitating the dialogue among all the actors in the coffee chain.
“We need to ensure that coffee production is sustainable and profitable while making sure that that there will be a strong global demand for our product”, said Silas Brasileiro, President of the Conselho Nacional de Café of Brazil. “Coordinated actions among producers, producers’ associations, the coffee industry and the ICO to increase consumption in emerging markets and producing countries are crucial.”
Ishak Lukenge, Board Member of the African Fine Coffees Association (AFCA) said that “at the current price levels, coffee is just not economically sustainable for millions of coffee farmers in Africa and all over the world. We are all co-responsible to make the coffee value-chain sustainable as a whole, but also each one of the links that make it”.
Ric Rhinehardt, President of the Specialty Coffee Association SCA, said that “today’s consumers are discerning and demand excellent quality, but also the assurance that their coffee is being produced in a sustainable manner”.
“It is impossible to have a sustainable coffee value chain with an extremely weak first link, the farmers, that does not have an income that makes their activity profitable”, said Roberto Vélez, CEO of the National Federation of Coffee Growers of Colombia.
According to William Murray, CEO of the National Coffee Association (USA), “with some estimates saying that the world will have to double coffee production by 2050, the coffee value chain needs to secure that coffee production is sustainable to meet the future global demand”.
M. B. Bopanna, representing the India Coffee Trust, said: “India’s middle class is comprised of 450 million people. We believe that if we expose them to the quality and benefits of coffee, we will increase consumption in our country significantly”.
“How can we expect the next generation, our children, to stay in coffee production if they see that their parents cannot even satisfy their basic needs after decades of work?”, said René León, Executive Director of Promecafé.
The 1st World Coffee Producers Forum met in Medellín, Colombia, in July 2017, with close to 1,500 attendees from 41 countries. The 2nd World Coffee Producers Forum will meet in July 2019.