Pt. I: Sustainability Standards For Coffee – With Hidden Agendas

Farmer with hat looking the coffee plantation field

Changing from conventional to more sustainable practices

By Morten Scholer, former UN advisor and author of the recent book Coffee and Wine: Two Worlds Compared 

The following post is first in a two-part series 


Almost half of all coffee is produced under one of the recognized sustainability standards. That’s 70 million bags, or four million metric tons.

However, only around a third of sustainably recognized coffee is eventually traded and labelled as sustainable – a discrepancy that is being addressed by all parties involved in attempts to reduce the gap.

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Fresh Brewed Data: New NCA Coffee Market Research Breakout Reports

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The National Coffee Association recently launched 8 new market research mini reports, based on new analysis of 2018 consumption trends data

By Karly Nevils, Dig Insights (karly@diginsights.com)

This July, it’s going to be a brew-tiful month!

The NCA has released eight new breakout market research reports based on the 2018 National Coffee Drinking Trends (NCDT) study data.

The reports look at the following topics:

National Coffee Drinking Trends Breakout research Reports

New NCA Market Research Reports

  • Coffee Brewing
  • Health and Coffee
  • Coffee Claims
  • Coffee at Work
  • Gourmet Coffee
  • Coffee Preparation In-Home
  • Coffee Preparation Out-of-Home
  • Tea – available free for a limited time only!

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Why the Latest Prop 65 Ruling is Bad for Coffee Farmers

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Coffee is both delicious and healthy.”

California’s Misguided Labeling Decision Impacts Coffee Growers & Drinkers

This post was originally published on the Global Farmer Network

By Luiz Roberto Saldanha Rodrigues

When a Los Angeles judge earlier this month finalized a ruling that coffee sold in California must carry cancer warning labels, many California residents may not have paid much attention to yet another labeling requirement.   

Ever since voters passed Proposition 65 more than 30 years ago, after all, Californians have watched the steady proliferation of vague statements about chemicals, cancer, and birth defects. They appear almost everywhere, from the windows of hardware stores to signs at Disneyland. They’re so abundant that Amazon even sells them as stickers in rolls of 500.  

Many people have begun to ignore these labels because they’re so common and because the information they convey is almost useless.  

So why am I  concerned if they now also show up on coffee?

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Fairtrade Data Points: Monitoring & Impact Preview

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By Kyle Freund, Fairtrade America
Follow: @krfreund

Coffee continues to be the world’s most-recognized Fairtrade product, representing an estimated 4 percent of the global market. By encouraging direct relationships, sharing of information, and stable prices, Fairtrade can provide both roasters and farmers with greater stability and a quality product.

Fairtrade America, the US-member of Fairtrade International, is preparing to release its annual monitoring and impact report, a compendium of facts, stats and data covering the full supply chain spectrum from origin to store shelves.

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What Upsiide Tells Us About Coffee Production and Consumer Perception

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By Michael Edwards, Dig Insights

Upsiide is a new idea screening app that is inspired by Tinder. Designed by Dig Insights (the experts behind the NCA National Coffee Drinking Trends Report), the mobile platform connects companies to real-time consumer feedback and powerful analytics.

The concept sounds complicated, but it’s simple to use. Here’s how it works:

Survey respondents using the app are shown an idea (a potential claim, a new beverage idea, a packaging idea, a branding idea a positioning idea, etc.). The idea can be expressed with any combination of text, images, and/or video. The respondent swipes right or left to like or dislike the idea, or can request more information. Once two ideas are liked, they are paired head-to-head for the respondent to indicate which concept they prefer most. The winning concept is advanced to the next round of trade-off.

The NCA used Upsiide to test how consumers react to coffee production information, including certifications, information about the farms where the coffee is grown, information about the coffee strain used in the product, etc.

So, what does Upsiide tell us about coffee production information?

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Data Snapshot: Coffee Farmer Income

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Photo courtesy of Fairtrade International

via Fairtrade America

Around 80% of the world’s coffee is produced by 17.7 million small-scale coffee farmers. And while the coffee industry aims to be a sustainability leader, the fact is that many farmers continue to struggle to make ends meet and support their families.

New research finds that the future of coffee depends on adequate income for farmers. A pilot study by Fairtrade International and True Price shows that despite sustainability pledges in the coffee sector, many coffee farmers struggle to make ends meet.

Key findings from the report include: 

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Coffee’s Big Sustainability Challenges

By Miguel Zamora, Head of Americas Region, UTZ

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Coffee farmers in Uganda at farmer field school. Photo: UTZ

The sustainability issues that the coffee industry face will get bigger and more pressing in the coming decades. Climate change, labor shortages, human rights issues in coffee production, and production profitability are examples of threats to the future of coffee.

These are complex questions that require sector-wide approaches to find solutions.

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The Next Step in Sustainability Standards

By Verónica Perez, 4C Association

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Last year over 149 million bags of coffee were consumed around the world. The love for this black beverage keeps growing in new markets, with more and more people enjoying coffee in their daily lives.

But as much as they love their cup, an increasing number of consumers also have concerns about the conditions in which farmers produce their beans. Even those less conscious would be upset to find out that protected areas are being deforested to grow coffee, or that pesticides used in production could be putting the health of farmers and workers at risk.

Companies are under increasing pressure to supply coffee that has been produced in accordance to sustainability criteria. But this is not always easy. Continue reading