21st February 2020
Cafédirect purchases 100% Fairtrade coffee, tea and cocoa. We were the first coffee company to be certified Fairtrade in 1994!
We see Fairtrade as being an important part of the puzzle in helping to address the huge inequalities and challenges that smallholder growers face. The underlying causes of inequality are of course inherently complex. Part of the challenge is through the way coffee is bought and sold on the global stock exchange, where it is very difficult to anticipate due to high levels of volatility. For example at the beginning of last year (Jan 2019) the coffee price was hovering around $1 per pound of coffee (Arabica) which was at low as prices back in the early 1990s. Yet towards the end of last year (October – December 2019), prices rose to almost $1.40 for two days before very quickly receding back to an unsustainable level. At the time of writing (17th February 2020) the coffee price is back down to $1.09.
With the coffee price being this low, it means huge uncertainty for farmers. It means they are not able to cover the cost of production, so they can’t pay hired workers to help pick the coffee cherries at harvest time, or in some cases have enough money to literally pay their rent or feed their families. It places farmers in the horrible position of knowingly having to make choices and shortcuts that will inevitably make their situation worse. For example, not being able to afford to use fertilisers and so producing a smaller yield in the following harvest. This is completely unsustainable and unacceptable.
Cafédirect’s commitment to paying Fairtrade Minimum prices, means that regardless of the coffee price fluctuations, coffee farmers that sell their green beans to Cafédirect know that they are getting at least $1.40 per lb. Fairtrade has set this level based on ongoing research, in order to ensure that farmers are able to cover the cost of production. They also know that Cafédirect pays an additional $0.20 per lb that is invested into the cooperative to help buy equipment or invest in coffee quality training that helps ultimately improve both yields and quality of coffee.
In addition to this, Cafédirect also invests up to 50% of its profits (being a social enterprise) into Producers Direct, which is a grower-led charity. This charity has been running for over 10 years and within that time has set up 7 Centers of Excellence training hubs in Latin America and Africa and has supported a million growers and communities!
Last year, Cafédirect invested just under £1 million in delivering impact and since 1994, we have invested £14.5 million in just Fairtrade Premiums. This investment is spent by cooperatives on equipment or programmes that benefit the whole community. For example, last year, Huadquina Cooperative in Peru, was able to purchase a new coffee washing station, which helps improve the quality of the coffee and therefore can be sold at a higher price.
This holistic, grower-led approach is made possible through our direct trading relationships with cooperatives, who know we’re there to help, especially when times are tough.
Later this year, we’ll be publishing our Sustainability Strategy to share ways that our supporters can get involved in our campaigns to empower and support growers.
During Fairtrade Fortnight (24th Feb-8th March 2020), keep an eye on our social channels for Fairtrade giveaways, the chance to ask Hugo, a coffee farmer from Norandino Cooperative a question and introduce a coffee lover to Cafédirect through our coffee subscription site.