With International Coffee Day (1 October) approaching, the Fairtrade Foundation has launched a campaign to highlight how low prices and the climate crisis combine to threaten the future of UK coffee supplies.
Expert forecasts warn that temperature rises of just 1.5ºC – 2ºC will see the amount of land highly suited to growing coffee slashed by over half – 54%. According to the Foundation, the climate crisis is already disrupting production, reducing quality and yield, and increasing farming costs, making a future in coffee farming increasingly challenging.
While the average non-Fairtrade coffee farmer can earn as little as US$1.37 a day, Fairtrade has raised its minimum price for coffee to $1.80 per pound, with an additional $0.20 per pound social premium to invest in projects to improve productivity, climate adaptation, quality, infrastructure, and basic community services identified as priorities by the farmers.
For Coffee Day, Fairtrade will run a promotional campaign featuring Cooperativa Manizales, a Fairtrade coffee co-operative in Colombia, and supported by cookbook author and Fairtrade champion Melissa Hemsley. The promotional materials will aim to “harness the British sense of fair play when it comes to choosing Fairtrade coffee”.
Michael Gidney, CEO of the Fairtrade Foundation, said: “Coffee brings so much joy each morning, but more needs to be done to ensure that coffee farmers in low-income countries are supported to live and work well and can afford to build the resilience needed to tackle the devasting impacts of the climate crisis.
“It’s clear that the public wants to drink coffee grown by farmers who earn decent incomes, free from exploitation. When you choose Fairtrade coffee, you’re helping to put more money in the hands of farmers who wouldn’t otherwise earn a fair wage for their hard work. Through this campaign, we want to help more consumers recognise the role they have in making a real, tangible difference to the lives of people who grow the beans that go into our morning latte in the UK.”
Angelica Maria Escobar Valencia, coffee farmer and member of Cooperativa Manizales in Colombia, said: “It’s very difficult to grow coffee now because rainfall patterns have changed and my farming costs and gone up. When production reduces, you lose income. Fairtrade gives me a safety net through the minimum price and Premium and the specialist training I receive from the producer network in Colombia.”
Valencia, who comes from a family of coffee farmers, says recent years have seen erratic harvests due to phenomena like El Niño and La Niña, which put growers like her “are at the mercy of climate change”.
As a member of Cooperativa Manizales, she has access to various programmes to improve coffee quality, economic stability, and environmental responsibility.
“Fairtrade has been really beneficial for this co-operative”, she said, adding that she has benefited from Fairtrade-funded coffee drying projects, including the installation of solar dryers, which significantly improve coffee quality by maintaining ideal humidity levels.
Through the Fairtrade Premium the co-op was also able to install a secure chemical storage, reinforcing responsible farming practices.