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Rainforest Alliance CEO Han de Groot on the need for action in 2019

From the January 2019 issue.

Rainforest Alliance CEO Han de Groot says companies and governments must adjust the way they do business and invest in the sustainability of coffee producers.

Today’s coffee industry is facing several challenges, the main ones being climate change and volatile market prices, which disproportionately affect the livelihoods of smallholder farmers and farm workers.

Farmers still only receive a marginal share of the final price paid by consumers, resulting in the unequal distribution of value in the supply chain. According to a 2018 Oxfam report, retail is claiming 50 per cent of the final price while the farmer share has decreased to 6.7 per cent. Less than 10 per cent of aggregate wealth stays in coffee producing countries.

With coffee prices at a 12-year low, farmers have been in a very bad position in 2018, which led us to issue an unprecedented statement calling on the coffee sector to start taking action today to ensure that the coffee we all enjoy is not being produced at the detriment of producers’ livelihoods.

We, therefore, believe traders, roasters, and retailers must adjust the way they do business while governments and companies should increase their investments in the sustainability of the producers.

2019 will be significant for both coffee sustainability and for the Rainforest Alliance, which has merged with the sustainability program and label UTZ to form a stronger and more innovative organisation to maximise our impact. In addition, the Rainforest Alliance sees collaboration as fundamental, and a key long-term partnership agreement with the Global Coffee Platform kicks off in January 2019.

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