We identified green coffee prices as the top coffee news story of 2018 in our introduction to our 2018 Year in Review series, so it’s fitting that we end the series with two reviews of our coverage on prices in 2018.
Prices paid for green coffee have long been the subject of debate and pontification in the coffee industry, and it seems 2018’s price crisis has spurred at least some hopefully meaningful action. This is true even in the specialty segment, which is waking up to the idea that it is not immune from unsustainable pricing structures given the fact that it, too, needs to assist in creating some stability and profitability in coffee production in order to ensure the very supply of coffee in the future.
Theories abound on how a more sustainable coffee economy might look (see our top columns on prices in 2018 here), but here we present our top news stories on coffee prices in 2018:
An increasingly consolidated, profit-driven coffee industry in leading consumer markets like the United States and Europe is failing to respond to serious sustainability threats. In this failure — in which the short-term pursuit of profit is prioritized over long-term sustainable practices — the coffee industry is rapidly headed towards its own peril.
The statement assigns culpability to a wide range of actors in and around the coffee trade with short but stinging critiques, while also underscoring the economic and existential threats that the current depressed prices pose to the global coffee sector and the millions of people who depend on it for their livelihood.
Starbucks has become the first major global coffee company to publicly put some big money where its mouth is, announcing today the commitment of up to $20 million in relief funds to coffee farmers being affected by the price crisis on the commodities market.
“As the leaders of the associations that represent the coffee growers from more than 30 countries, we write to you to express our deepest concern about 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.
A comic book might seem an unlikely medium through which to convey the complexities of the coffee trade or inequity in the value chain, yet anything that gets the conversation started is a good thing.
The SCA also announced that it is launching an initiative to address coffee prices in the green coffee trade. The group said its Coffee Price Crisis Response Initiative is “aimed at understanding and addressing the price crisis affecting coffee farmers and threatening our supply chain as a whole.”