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Coffee: Corporations cash in

by Leo Frühschütz (comments: 0)

Three cups of coffee
More than 2 million cups of coffee are drunk worldwide every day. © Shutterstock/kikovic

More than two billion cups of coffee are drunk worldwide every day. That makes an annual turnover of 175 billion euros. But there is less and less for the farmers.

Malnutrition and child labour among coffee farmers

The Forum Fairer Handel, Gepa and the seal organisation TransFair have pointed out this imbalance and provided figures in a study (written in German). According to this study, revenues in the producing countries fell by about 10% between 1994 and 2017 after adjustment for inflation. At the same time, production costs rose. In contrast, the value added by roasters and traders in Germany rose by 215% in the same period from 2.28 bn euros to 4.9 bn euros per year, the organisations write.

The consequences of falling incomes are malnutrition among coffee farmers, child labour, increasing migration and drug trafficking. "At the same time, the expansion and modernization of coffee cultivation is leading to deforestation and an expansion of the use of chemical fertilizers. These developments would become even more pronounced as a result of progressive climate change.

Politicians should hold coffee roasters accountable

Using case studies on coffee cultivation in Colombia, Peru and Ethiopia, the organisations show that Fair Trade improves the living conditions of producers.

It strengthens the organisational capacity of farmers and cushions price fluctuations on the world market with a minimum price. In addition, the cooperatives would benefit from premiums for fair trade and organic farming. The combination of organic cultivation and fair trade is particularly effective. However, Fair Coffee's current market share in Germany is only 4.8%.

"Even perspectively, fair trade cannot solve the injustice
of the coffee market on its own",

the authors of the study conclude.

Politicians must take the roasters to task. "For this reason, we advocate a statutory entrepreneurial duty of care along the supply chains. Companies must take responsibility for ensuring that their products are manufactured under humane conditions," says Andrea Fütterer, Chairwoman of the Fair Trade Forum.


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