Will the coffee sector build back better?

Updated: Jun 11

The obvious is staring us in the face, changing the lives of 25 million smallholder coffee farmers has never been more achievable.

There’s actually only one question to ask in order to ascertain whether the coffee sector will 'build back better' to achieve the SDG goals:

' Who will benefit, going forward, from coffee roasting income and the vast profits only generated after the roasting point, the farming communities or coffee companies in consumer countries? '

It's an indisputable fact that value is generated in coffee supply chains at the roasting stage, prior to this point coffee changes hands often below the break-even point for the coffee farmer, this is why modern-day slavery and child labour are so widespread across the global coffee belt.

Even with the Fairtrade premium (20c per pound), the long-struggling coffee farmer receives just $3.52 per kilo for green unroasted coffee, this same coffee is then roasted and sold in consumer countries for 10 to 20 times this amount.

These vast profits are, of course, hoovered up by companies in consumer countries leaving farming communities in the developing world, more often than not, struggling to even put food on a plate.

A $100 billion dollar industry paying farmers less than they need just to feed their families, yet claims of sustainable coffee fill every supermarket shelf?

Modern-Slavery is widespread across the coffee sector, child labour is accepted as part and parcel of the price of a cup of coffee - not by us at NOT1BEAN, nor by the like-minded people and companies believing in equality and resilience in supply chains.

It's a simple question, and in one respect the coffee sector has it easier than most when tasked with 'building back better', just one thing needs to be asked of any coffee company claiming ethical business models, just one question of any single coffee:

'Just who will benefit as we 'build back better', from coffee roasting income, and the vast profits only generated after the roasting point, the farming communities themselves, or coffee companies in consumer countries?'

At least 94% of coffee suppliers are currently avoiding the question, an answer 25 million smallholder coffee farmers are waiting to hear.



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