US – Bellweather Coffee, a leading commercial coffee roaster, has partnered with global development organization Heifer International and specialty coffee importer Sustainable Harvest to launch a new pricing model for coffee called Verified Living Income.
According to a press release, the model will help farmers receive fair pricing for their coffee in addition to equalizing evolving procurement practices to address sustainability and increase cooperation throughout the supply chain.
The launch of Verified Living Income comes at a time when there is a growing effort across the industry to provide greater support and transparency for coffee farmers, who often receive little to no profit for their crops.
The program is particularly timely as coffee prices are at an all time low due to a number of factors including currency devaluation, speculation and an oversupply from large producers in Brazil and Vietnam.
The price that farmers earn for their coffee beans has dropped 70% between 2014 and 2020 and now hovers around $1 per pound, according to Green Biz.
A devastating disease called coffee rust leaf also is plaguing some farmers’ crops resulting in reducing yield and impacting farmer ability to protect the long-term economic viability of their farms.
To highlight their plight, coffee growers have come together in a number of instances to agitate for better prices for their crop.
In 2019, coffee growers in Brazil, Colombia and 24 other countries met in Brazil to discuss potential solutions to depressed prices.
A year earlier, growers from more than 30 countries wrote a letter to more than 20 large coffee buyers, including Nestlé and Starbucks, alerting them to the issue and requesting better prices. Only one company responded to the effort.
Their efforts have however not yield as much results as they would have anticipated as most coffee companies have dragged their feet in responding to their plight and none has made any commitment to pay farmers better prices.
Having support from major supply chain stakeholders such as Bellweather, Heifer and Sustainable Harvest could help build momentum for the cause of coffee farmers.
An industry-led effort also could assist coffee buyers and manufacturers to identify sourcing opportunities that provide better prices for farmers.
This is not the first effort to raise awareness for coffee. Fairtrade International offers a certification program to help consumers and other supply chain players connect with coffee farmers and provide them with better prices through a premium.
The organization determined a price of around $2 per pound for coffee would be enough to provide a four-person farming household in Colombia with a living income.
Olam Coffee has been taking steps to improve conditions for coffee growers, too. As part of a recent sustainability commitment, it announced plans to train 100,000 households on sustainable agricultural practices.
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