Fair Trade Coffee Benefits

Coffee is one of the most widely available and used beverages in the world today. Coffee is drunk from one end of the globe to the other, often in quite different forms. Coffee has become a way of life for some people in the western world. Cafe chains have sprung up everywhere and a few have done very well setting up new stores weekly across the globe. However this massive industry has to have a supply, where does all this coffee come from?

Most coffee is grown at high altitudes and needs quite a specific sort of climate. There are limited places in the world were coffee will grow. It would therefore be logical to think that coffee growers would be some of the richest people in coffee producing countries, for example in Peru. Nothing however could be further from the truth. The farmers of the drink many of us know so well have traditionally been some of the poorest people in the countries they live in. They are often rural farmers paid just enough by large companies to survive, and more recently less than enough to survive.

The current economic downturn has seen coffee prices plunge in the last few years prompting companies who had built up large stockpiles (as prices were so cheap already) to drastically reduce their buying of raw coffee beans and in some cases stop altogether. Interestingly the price of coffee in our cup has not gone down at all but has seen quite a rise in the last few years. So how does this happen? How do the growers get paid less and less and sometimes nothing at all, yet the price of coffee that we drink continues to go up and up? That is a complex question to answer but well worth pondering next time you are having a nice hot cup of coffee.

Fair trade coffee changes all that. Under the Fair trade system farmers get a set price for their produce, on average about 5 times more than what they were getting paid previously by large multi-national corporations. The emergence of this type of commercial model is a heart warming example that business can be done and it can work without exploiting the farmers at the end of the money chain.

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