How Fairly-traded Coffee Benefits Farmers

Coffee is arguably the most popular and recognizable fairly-trade item.

Here is a visual from Equal Exchange explaining how its minimum price of $1.26 per pound benefits the farmers and consumer by cutting out the middleman:

Equal Exchange Image

Removing the middleman is not a revolutionary concept – its the foundation for Dell’s direct model – however the difference here is that Equal Exchange is a co-op and the economic benefits are shared with the farmers and the consumers.

On the importance of fair trade to farmers in developing countries:

“We in Latin America have a task before us which is staggering to the imagination- illiteracy to be eliminated, disease to be wiped out, good health to be restored, a sound program of nutrition to be worked out for millions of people. The key to all of this… is an equitable price for coffee. If they could secure a fair price, they could work a “miracle” similar to the thriving United States. If coffee cannot receive an equitable price, then you cast these millions of persons loose to drift in a perilous sea of poverty and privation, subject to every chilling wind, every subversive blast.”
-Andres Uribe (former chairman of the Pan American Coffee Bureau), 1999

Speaking of coffee, I met Jessie Jennings, sales manager of Austin-based Texas Coffee Traders, at today’s downtown Austin Farmers’ Market. I hope to feature an interview with this group in the near future.