Fair Trade Coffee producers deeply regret the decision taken by Fair Trade USA to freeze outdated minimum prices, condemning producers to sell coffee beans below the cost of production.
More than 600 Fairtrade coffee producer organizations worldwide make a strong call to Fair Trade USA to reconsider its decision, confirming that the price increase has been a collective request after a long process of consultation, country percountry, region per region.
After eleven years and a strong and inclusive process of cost consultation with producers, experts from the main coffee producing countries all over the world, commercial trading partners and roasters, including those operating in North America, the Fairtrade Minimum Price was updated as a foundational step in addressing human and environmental risks directly related to low coffee prices.
Producers of Latin America, Africa, and Asia – organized in Fairtrade Producer Networks – were actively involved in the Fairtrade International consultation and decision-making process and have never been more aligned than in this strong request to increase the Fairtrade Minimum Price. “We all felt such a big relief” stated Roberto Salazar, Chair of CLAC’s Coffee Network, “We weighted the potential risk of losing Fairtrade market share, against the reality of losing farmers, unable to stay in farming with prices that do not cover the basic costs of production”. Further, Benjamin-Franklin Kouame, Chair of Fairtrade Africa emphasized that he actively supports all initiatives that seek fair remuneration for the efforts of producers.
The data collection and consultation on costs confirmed the rising costs of production, compliance, and farmers´ needs to invest in order to recover and adapt in face of climate change. An industry that stands behind living income, wages, human rights, care about youth and the environment, should recognize that the decision of Fair Trade USA is not in the best interest of producer, nor a solution for the many challenges producers face.
“The Fairtrade Minimum Price is a safety net provided for farmers to protect them from exploitative market forces and is unique to Fairtrade. This sets us apart from other certifications” declares Pravakar Meher, Chair of NAPP, the Asian and Pacific Fairtrade Producer Network. “Fairtrade NAPP producer members welcome the revised coffee minimum price which was long overdue and has been set after an exhaustive consultation process with all the relevant stakeholders. The Fairtrade Minimum Price along with the Fairtrade premium seeks a more equitable distribution along the supply chain and empowerment of farmers and workers which is at the core of the Fairtrade movement.”
“Child labour, poverty, hunger, migration, poor living and working conditions, land degradation, deforestation, loss of biodiversity, and we can go on and on. Raising the price is just a first step to avoid further harm” says Merling Preza, coordinator of the CAN Coffee Network of African, Asian and Latin American Fairtrade coffee producers.
CLAC, Fairtrade Africa and NAPP, the three continental Fairtrade Producer Networks, support coffee producers and their organizations in complying with Fairtrade standards and international regulations, introducing, and strengthening sustainable production practices, tackling climate change, creating awareness on human rights and addressing salient risks and promoting youth and gender inclusion. “AsProducer Organizations and Networks, we always have accompanied fair pricesetting with programs and projects, but fair purchasing practices and pricesare the basis and condition for social and environmental justice”, says Marike de Peña, Chair of CLAC, “projects and programs are no substitute forsustainable pricing, both are key in achieving our ambitious 2030 goals”.
“To reinforcesustainability in the coffee value chain, a balance needs to be established,and the price increase, after over a decade, puts more momentum in productionand supply to the market. Truly resilient livelihoods of coffee farmers callfor reviewing Fairtrade Minimum Prices to ensure that producers are selling atprices that cover their cost of production while working with stakeholders tomeet other farming needs like climate change and adherence to ever-changingregulatory frameworks. Paying farmers, a fair price for their crops is the bareminimum to keep them farming. Programmatic support should be layered above afair and sustainable trade platform like the Fairtrade Minimum Price andPremium models” comments Benjamin Kouame, Chair of Fairtrade Africa.
More than 600 Fairtrade coffee producer organizations worldwide strongly request Fair Trade USA to reconsider its decision to freeze the coffee minimum prices at a level set more than a decade ago.
Finally, we call on the industry, consumers and other market players to stand in solidarity with coffee producers and listen to their voices.