The Origin Of Fair Trade Coffee

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The Origin Of Fair Trade Coffee
The Origin Of Fair Trade Coffee – The origin of fair trade coffee – An “entrenched” stereotype has been established since the first centuries of the global coffee trade mechanism – that the coffee plant (and the people associated with it) has never achieved fairness or equality.

As early as 1859, Dutch author Multatuli questioned the injustice of the capitalist and colonial system toward enslaved people in his novel Max Havelaar.

This fictional story drew a direct correlation between the wealth and prosperity of Europe and the poverty and suffering of other parts of the world – and was the premise for the establishment of the certification.

A woman in Chiapas, Mexico, with her certified coffee

The Dutch, Max Havelaar, and Fair Trade coffee

The Netherlands was one of the early entrants to the global coffee trade and quickly played a strategic role. They are also one of the leading causes driving the spread of colonialism worldwide. In the seventeenth century, the Dutch brought back from Yemen Arabica coffee seeds (illegal) and shipped them to their colonies in Indonesia.

They planted them and started the coffee farming industry, especially on the island of Java. Then they began to open large plantations in Sumatra and Bali. The Dutch became the leading coffee traders in Europe.

Due to the Cultuurstelsel policies negotiated between the Dutch and the tribal leaders where they invaded, the locals were forced to stop growing rice, fruit trees, and vegetables – the things they did.

They needed to sustain life but instead converted the land to coffee production. This policy brought the Netherlands and its Indonesian allies enormous wealth through exports but also ushered in a terrible famine, which caused many deaths, forcing the Dutch to abandon the policy.

This allows locals to grow food crops alongside coffee. This is noted in many historical documents, most notably Multatuli’s Max Havelaar. “Max Havelaar” or “Dutch Trading Company Coffee Auctions” is a novel written by a former official of the Dutch East Indies civil service under the pseudonym Multatuli, first published in 1860, tells the story of Max Havelaar, a Dutch civil servant.

Havelaar is a young idealist who wants to end the mistreatment and oppression of the native Javanese people caused by the coffee trade & corruption. The novel was controversial when it was first published in the Netherlands because of its exposure to the coffee companies at the time, but it gained so much support that in the twentieth century, it was translated into 34 languages.

In recognition of this novel’s influence on Dutch society and identifying their country’s role in coffee history, the name Max Havelaar has been adopted by the fair trade movement as a symbol of their goal. In the 1980s, when the price of coffee had plummeted, a group of Dutch ecclesiastical and social organizations came together in 1988 to establish the Max Havelaar Foundation to promote trade and production of coffee products—certified as fair trade.

Multatuli .’s Max Havelaar novel cover

Fairtrade can be seen as a vast pilot project, testing how the entire supply chain can find ways to manage price fluctuations more effectively. The FAIRTRADE sticker (as part of the fair trade movement in general) arose out of the economic and human crisis of the 1985 coffee price crash- Carol Robertson.

The coffee tree equality movement

The Dutch are not alone. Fairtrade has initiated the development of various movements aimed at improving labor and environmental standards in developing countries. For centuries, coffee growers have been victims of volatile price markets.

Part of the problem is the lack of transparency for farmers and consumers. Because the vast majority of coffee is grown on plantations in far-flung countries (like Africa or South America), even the most socially conscious consumer can hardly buy it directly from the grower – not the same way we buy vegetables directly from where they grow.

Whether in Africa or South America, the grower deals with a broker who makes a profit by arranging to sell the beans to the exporter. The exporter pays the grower and then sells the coffee to an importer, adding his profit margin.

The roaster sells the coffee to a wholesaler or a coffee shop owner, who then raises the price again to cover the rent, taxes, and other labor costs. In short, it’s a long way from tree to cup with plenty of opportunities for price abuse and continuing inequality to build up.

Growing coffee is one way to curb poverty, but certainly not the way to prosperity – Britta Folmer.

As the twentieth century drew to a close, many movements that drew attention to the economic imbalances of the coffee trade gained a more prominent voice in the debate. But this is not a discovery. Over the decades, efforts have been made to raise consumer awareness of the actual cost of their cheap morning coffee and the plight of growers – Carol Robertson.

First, get back to price fairness

The principle of fair trade applies to several commodities, but mainly coffee – this is the most traded commodity after oil. And while inequality has persisted for centuries, the 1980s to 1990s were the darkest times for coffee prices as the ICO quota system collapsed, with the return on costs to growers.

Bottom level. In the early 2000s, the downturn in world coffee prices caused a severe crisis for growers. In Vietnam, which is now the third-largest coffee producer globally, after Brazil and Colombia, the price of green coffee only compensates growers for less than 60% of production costs.

One of the first and foremost principles of the fair trade movement in trade is to ensure a profit in coffee production through a minimum price for farmers (for their coffee) regardless of the current market price. Plus, fair trade teams work with small farmers’ cooperatives and secure a credit of up to 60% of the cost before they deliver the coffee to allow them to invest in manufacturing.

As of 2016, fairtrade certified cooperatives can be guaranteed a minimum price of US$1.40/pound for Arabica coffee on fairtrade terms (additional 30 cents if organic). They also receive an extra 20 cents per pound of Fairtrade Premium for reinvestment, with 5 cents dedicated to yield and quality investments.

Shawn S teiman – The Little Coffee Know-It-All

Today, several nonprofit organizations oversee the certification and labeling of coffee, licensing the use of fair trademarks in each of the major markets. The oldest and best-known organization is the Max Havelaar Foundation.

The FAIRTRADE logo on certified appropriate trade products signifies a guaranteed minimum price for coffee growers, maintaining a long-term commercial relationship, guaranteed working conditions, and protecting the environment. School.

Next, build sustainability (organic fair trade)

Another issue that attracted attention at the end of the 20th century was the destruction of extensive rainforests and environmental degradation caused by large coffee plantations.

The second half of the century has seen a shift in how coffee is grown and produced, driven by a rapid increase in coffee production and consumer demand for specialty coffees. To meet this growing demand, the coffee industry has moved from relying on small coffee producers to industrial cultivation on more extensive plantations.

Traditionally, coffee has been grown under shade trees for centuries until yield requirements prompted changes in farming. Coffee farmers have switched from shade to exposure, cutting down shade trees to grow coffee outdoors. Coffee varieties that thrive in the sun are also replacing traditional coffee.

Not only because of the coffee tree that will make the environment worse, nor because of the environmental label, but many good things will come to the coffee farmers who avoid climate change.

Coffee grown exposed to the sun is promoted for two reasons. The increased demand for coffee provided the impetus for the subsequent dramatic increase in production. More plants grown under indirect exposure per planting area tripled the yield compared with plants grown in the shade.

Also, another reason believed at this time is to prevent the spread of Hemileia vastatrix – the coffee rust fungus that is destroying traditional coffee plantations. And is the farmers’ obsession with coffee rust is also leading to the increasing use of pesticides and fertilizers on coffee plantations.

This need has spurred many other coffee certification movements to emerge, such as shade-grown coffee, bird-friendly coffee, and fair trade. As an added benefit, many coffee connoisseurs claim that organic, shade-grown coffee can taste better than mass-produced coffee.

The reality is that coffee grown using these traditional methods takes longer to mature, and a slowly ripening bean will accumulate more flavor.

I am seeking justice outside fair trade coffee

In recent years, fair trade organizations have been criticized for their beliefs about the benefits they bring. Because they have entered into relationships with significant coffee retailers, such as Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts, licensing the right to use the “Fair Trade Certified” label on coffee sold in those brands’ stores.

This raises concerns that they are using fair trade as a cover to enhance the public image to draw attention away from the real abuses in the coffee trade. However, many critics also commend similar companies for their steps.

It does not seem unreasonable to expect large multinational organizations to convert their sourcing to certified fair trade products. And there is some concern about whether the fair trade market could become large enough to improve standards in developing countries. However, sales of fair trade-certified coffees have increased significantly over the past few years.

Confronting Doubts (Coffee 

Some large companies have taken a different approach, working with other FLOs (Labeling Organizations International) outside of the fair trade to obtain certification for sustainable practices.

One is the Sara Lee consortium, with Utz certification for several Douwe Egberts products. Meanwhile, Kraft Foods, along with Lyons of the UK and Lavazza – Italy’s largest coffee producer, has established a relationship with the Rainforest Alliance, a sustainability certification body founded in the late 1990s. 1980 to stop the destruction of the rainforest.

Is fair trade focusing on price, sustainability, or growers’ livelihoods? This depends on where you are in the coffee supply chain.

The primary way these organizations are distinguished from fair trade coffee organizations is the price of the coffee. Fairtrade coffee certification guarantees a minimum price for growers, often above-market because it is based on a reasonable profit margin for growers to reinvest in their plantations, not vagaries of price.

Critics of the fair trade movement argue that the fair trade minimum price guarantee only exacerbates the problem of the coffee price downturn. It attracts growers to the market at an artificially high price, leading to an oversupply of coffee.

Meanwhile, Organizations like Rainforest Alliance don’t guarantee minimum rates – And of course, some would argue that; Price, rather than the livelihood and environmental sustainability, is the real reason why big companies are more willing to work with this organization than fair trade groups – Rainforest Alliance coffee is cheaper than the coffee being sold. Fair Trade Certification.

However, arguing for or against it, it is inevitable that as long as consumers demand fair trade coffee, producers will find a way to supply it while still profiting from the products.           

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Reference source:

  • The Little Book of Coffee Law ; Book by Carol Robertson | Chapter Twenty-One: Fair Trade Coffee: The Growers El Salto, SA Escuintla Guatemala CA v. Psg Co. and Greenberg, 444 F.3d 477 (9th Cir. 1971)

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