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Producer associations urge world’s largest buyers to fight price crisis with joint action

Associations of coffee farmers representing more than 30 countries in Latin America, Africa and Asia have sent a joint letter to the industry’s main coffee buyers, warning them about the current price crisis and urging them to find immediate joint solutions.

Among the intended recipients of the letter are Starbucks, Nestlé, Joh Johannson, Gustav Paulig, Folgers, Keurig, and Jacobs Douwe Egberts.

“As the leaders of coffee growers' associations that represent coffee growers from more than 30 countries, we write to you to express our deepest concern with the current situation in the coffee market that is generating a deep economic, social and potentially political crisis, and unrest amongst coffee producers all over the world,” the letter reads.

“Since 1990, coffee prices have been behaving in a way that is every day more and more damaging to farmers, to the point where in many countries they cannot even cover their production costs, let alone make a profit to make a decent livelihood for them and their families.”

The letter says other effects of the price crisis include undocumented immigrants from Africa and Latin America illegally crossing borders and an increase in illicit crop production.

“There is risk of abandoning coffee farms and constriction in supply, which is disadvantageous to the final consumer,” the letter says.

The letter addresses the profit imbalance for coffee farmers and the need for every link in the chain to be profitable to have a healthy and sustainable coffee industry.

Consumers were noted as a key part of the value chain, who need to be educated on the current situation.

“This is the time to engage them globally to explain to them why coffee is at risk, not just for threats such as climate change but, in a more immediate way, the lack of economic sustainability of millions of coffee growers who are paid today less than on third of the price of 1982,” the letter says.

The main associations of coffee producers that signed the letter include the Robusta Coffee Agency of Africa and Madagascar, African Fine Coffee Association, Specialty Coffee Association of Brazil, National Coffee Council (Brazil), Colombian Coffee Growers Federation, Inter African Coffee Organization, India Coffee Trust, and Promecafé, which represents Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, Peru, the Dominican Republic and Jamaica.

“We hope that this letter will be the first step of a very serious discussion and joint actions between the industry and producers to find ways to guarantee economic sustainability of coffee growers by increasing their income and avoid the expansion of the social catastrophe that is brewing in many coffee countries,” the associations say.

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