The Co-op Group, along with Cafédirect and Percol, is calling on retailers and consumers to make FairTrade purchases to help protect the futures of the 25 million coffee farmers worldwide.
Coffee prices have hit the lowest level in a decade and only FairTrade-certified coffee guarantees a fair, above-market price.
According to the companies spearheading the campaign, 100 million cups of coffee are consumed in the UK each day, and only one in 25 farmers receives the FairTrade minimum price, set at £1.12 per pound.
The Co-op Group claims that if all the roast and ground coffee bought was certified FairTrade, £40m in FairTrade premium could help farming communities across the world.
The FairTrade premium is paid to farming co-ops to invest in social or business projects, enabling them to better provide for their communities. The additional money, which is over and above the FairTrade minimum price of coffee, empowers farmers to take responsibility for their own futures.
It is often invested in providing better housing, education grants, farm improvements, school allotments and sustainability projects for communities in developing countries.
Michael Fletcher, retail chief operating officer at the Group, said: “We’re deeply saddened about the impact to farmers. We need to be thinking about the millions of smallholder farmers who work to put coffee in our mugs every day and are struggling to survive.
“It leaves a sour taste to think that many coffee farmers will not get paid enough money for their crop to survive through to the next harvest. It’s about time all brand and retailers started paying a fair price for the ingredients that the farmers work so hard to produce.
A Fairtrade price means everything to coffee growers but costs us, the end consumer very little, it’s less than 2p per cup.
“We made a long-term commitment to Fairtrade, supported by our millions of members, and we continue to show our customers how paying a fair price to farmers on the other side of the world could make an enormous difference to the quality of their lives and the communities in which they live.”