Why we partner with Fairtrade to pay farmers a fair price for their coffee beans
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.
The Fairtrade Foundation fixes the minimum price paid to a coffee co-operative for 1 U.S. pound (weight) of coffee beans to a guaranteed $1.40. This is 30% more than the current market rate which can fluctuate greatly. Fairtrade standards for coffee act as a safety net against the unpredictable market. They provide security to coffee producers who know that they will get a price that covers their average costs of sustainable production.
Most of the Fairtrade premium is passed straight to the farming families to support them to live on a daily basis. Life in rural Peru is tough and poverty is rife so this premium provides vital support to these families. The other part of the Fairtrade premium goes to fund social projects that will benefit the co-operatives as a whole (more of this in a future blog).
Farmers in the region we visited also face a struggle against La Roya, a type of leaf rust which damages coffee plants. It affects 80% of farms and can mean that farmers can lose up to 50% of their crop.
Faced with the struggle to feed their families, farmers sometimes succumb to the temptation to pick their coffee cherries too early and/ or to sell their produce outside of the coffee co-operative, simply so they can get money quickly. This quick-fix creates a bigger problem for these farmers who are then not able to benefit from the Fairtrade premium income, which helps them manage until the next harvest. It also has the knock-on effect of lower volumes being driven through the co-operatives, which means there is less income to invest in community projects which will benefit the whole area.
Whilst in Peru we went to visit two different coffee co-operatives. One had been in the Fairtrade scheme for 30 years, the other only three. The difference showed immediately. Whilst both co-operatives had the same objectives, the less established one lacked the resources, expertise and money to develop and pay for the infrastructure and equipment they wanted and needed to support coffee farmers and their families. Seeing this contrast really shows the long term difference Fairtrade makes in these communities.
Whilst in Peru we saw some beautiful examples of farmed forest, high grown, handpicked and totally organic coffee which had been beautifully farmed and cared for. This was a true reflection of what we know Aspretto is and a reminder of why we must continue to buy Fairtrade.
This blog is the second in a series of blogs unravelling the Aspretto coffee journey and telling the story of the people who grow it. Look out for these blogs in the coming weeks and look back at the first blog.