Shedding light on ‘deepest, darkest’ Peru
This blog post was created by Kim Reeves, Retail Category Manager Hot Beverages for Sodexo.
Kim travelled to Peru in August 2015 to trace the coffee beans Sodexo buy to create triple certified Aspretto coffee, back to their source.
When you think of Peru, you might call to mind Paddington Bear, Machu Picchu or even panpipes, but you might not necessarily think coffee. But Peru is the source of the beans that Sodexo buys for Aspretto. In August 2015 I travelled to the north of Peru with our coffee supplier, UCC and representatives from the Fairtrade Foundation to trace the journey of our coffee beans back to their source and to meet the farmers who produce it.
Aspretto coffee is triple-certified; not only Fairtrade but also RainForest Alliance and Soil Association certified. Without going into too much detail, these standards guarantee that Aspretto coffee meets certain social, environment and sustainability standards, and that the farmers that produce the beans are paid a fair price.
As anyone who knows me will testify, I am passionate about coffee, having been responsible for implementing our hot beverages across the Sodexo UK & Ireland business for many years. I am rightly proud that Aspretto is triple certified. But having used that phrase countless times, I was keen to delve a bit deeper into what it actually means.
On this trip our objective was to see for ourselves the physical, tangible difference that buying coffee with these certifications make, especially to the coffee farmers and their families at the beginning of the supply chain. Our objective was also to record the journey – through video, photography and written records, so that we can start to build an understanding of our coffee supply chain in the Sodexo business and with our clients.
This blog is the first in a series of blogs unravelling the Aspretto coffee journey and telling the story of the people who grow it. In the blogs I will look at the role of Fairtrade, how Aspretto coffee helps improve the lives of women and their families in Peru and the importance of sustainable farming – how we can ensure our co-ops will still be farming coffee in future generations.
My initial observations were that life is hard for these farmers. Chanchamayo, the region we visited, is mountainous and inhospitable. Over the week we survived some very hazardous journeys (some involving cliff edges) mostly thanks to our amazing (ninja) driver Ramon who seemed to know every road and track in Peru.
Growing coffee is hard, physical work and farming families struggle to make ends meet. Farmers get less for a kilo of picked coffee cherries than we pay for a small cappuccino. Farmers face major problems with ‘La Roya’ or leaf rust, which affects 80% of farms and can mean that farmers can lose up to 50% of their crop.
I saw first-hand that the fairtrade premium makes a huge difference to farmers’ livelihoods by guaranteeing farmers a minimum trading price for their coffee beans. It also supports the development of the coffee co-operatives through community projects, which seek to guarantee coffee farming for future generations.
It was fantastic to meet a group of people who were even more passionate about coffee than I am. To travel as far as I did and find that our chosen coffee collectives are trying to achieve the same things as we are on a daily basis was amazing.