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Tag Archive for: Daniele Giovannucci

by Sandra Marquardt

Fair Trade, Shade Grown, Organic Coffee Sales Continue to be Hot!

Categories: 2012, DecemberTags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , Author:

12_12 22-ASales of cof­fee cer­ti­fied to organic, Fair Trade and Bird Friendly shade-grown stan­dards con­tin­ued to increase sub­stan­tially over the last two years. This is the direct result of con­sumers con­tin­u­ing to vote with their pock­et­books in favor of com­pa­nies pro­vid­ing high qual­ity cof­fee that is also cer­ti­fied to stan­dards that pro­tect work­ers and the envi­ron­ment. But, the sales could not increase if it weren’t for the cof­fee importers and retail­ers across the coun­try that have incor­po­rated increas­ing amounts of the cer­ti­fied cof­fee into their prod­uct lines.

12_12 22-BIndeed, imports of Fair Trade Certified™ organic (FTO) cof­fee grew 14 per­cent in 2011 to just over 72 mil­lion pounds, rep­re­sent­ing 52 per­cent of all Fair Trade cof­fee imported into the U.S. with an esti­mated mar­ket value of $700 mil­lion, accord­ing to the lat­est data from Fair Trade USA. The annual aver­age increase for Fair Trade organic cof­fee imports was 11.5% from 2008–2011. The total esti­mated retail sales value is based on both out-of-home sales (cafes, cof­fee shops, restau­rants) and retail sales at main­stream and spe­cialty gro­cery stores.

The demand for Fair Trade Certified organic cof­fee from both con­sumers and indus­try has made 2012 an excit­ing year for the com­mu­ni­ties we sup­port,” said Jennifer Gallegos, Director of Coffee at Fair Trade USA. “We expect this momen­tum to con­tinue in 2013, help­ing farm­ers earn fund­ing for much-needed social, envi­ron­men­tal and qual­ity improve­ment pro­grams that will uplift the cof­fee indus­try as a whole.”

In addi­tion, sales of the strin­gent Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center’s Bird Friendly® stan­dard, con­sid­ered by many to be the ‘gold-standard’ for shade-grown cof­fee pro­duc­tion, reached $5.3 mil­lion in 2011. Bird Friendly®-certified cof­fee enjoyed a 29% aver­age annual increase in sales in the global mar­ket from 2008–2011, accord­ing to Dr. Robert Rice, coör­di­na­tor of the Bird Friendly program.

The North American organic cof­fee mar­ket topped 1.4 bil­lion dol­lars in 2009, the most recent data avail­able, accord­ing to lead­ing mar­ket ana­lyst Daniele Giovannucci. But it’s not only organic cof­fee sales that are increasing—the U.S. organic indus­try grew by 9.5 per­cent over­all in 2011 to reach $31.5 bil­lion in sales. Of this, the organic food and bev­er­age sec­tor, includ­ing organic cof­fee, was val­ued at $29.22 bil­lion (the organic non-food sec­tor accounted for $2.2 bil­lion), accord­ing to find­ings from the Organic Trade Association’s (OTA’s) 2012 Organic Industry Survey.

One of the most recent indi­ca­tions of cof­fee retail change-of-course is the com­mit­ment of Bolla Market, a chain of New York City-area high-end con­ve­nience stores, to switch to offer­ing only top-quality, spe­cialty cof­fee cer­ti­fied to organic, Fair Trade, and Bird Friendly® shade grown stan­dards for all its cof­fee offer­ings at its 21 loca­tions rang­ing from Brooklyn to Riverhead on Long Island as well as in Staten Island, New York. Similarly, Pennsylvania-based Golden Valley Farm Coffee Roasters has found con­ve­nience stores increas­ingly inter­ested in offer­ing high qual­ity cof­fee cer­ti­fied to the stan­dards, although the chains they sup­ply often choose not to adver­tise the cer­ti­fi­ca­tions and let the increased cof­fee sales speak for themselves.

12_12 22-CSandra Marquardt is the pres­i­dent of On the Mark Public Relations and the cof­fee spokesper­son for the Organic Trade Association (OTA). She for­merly coör­di­nated the Organic Coffee Collaboration – a project of the OTA.

Organic Certification — Not only Relevant Today, but Vital

Categories: 2012, MarchTags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , Author:

There has been talk lately about whether organic cer­ti­fi­ca­tion is rel­e­vant to the spe­cialty cof­fee sec­tor, espe­cially along the lines of direct rela­tion­ships and directly pay­ing the farmer the equiv­a­lent of the organic pre­mium required from roast­ers, regard­less of the pro­duc­tion method. I asked sev­eral lumi­nar­ies in the cof­fee arena if they would like to com­ment on this posi­tion and the fol­low­ing are their thoughts.

Dr. Robert Rice, Geographer with the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center of the National Zoo and Coördinator of its Bird Friendly® shade-grown cof­fee cer­ti­fi­ca­tion pro­gram: There cer­tainly is noth­ing wrong with direct rela­tion­ships between grower and roaster. There is a long his­tory of those arrange­ments that reaches back into the 1800s; it is not a new phe­nom­e­non. But to focus solely on the amount of money paid to grow­ers misses the point. Surely, there exists a group of organic pro­duc­ers who have got­ten cer­ti­fied organic strictly for the eco­nomic ben­e­fits that brings them. We have seen that grow­ers in coun­tries like Guatemala or Kenya or oth­ers can get upwards of a $0.30 to $0.40 pre­mium for the organic seal. Where vol­ume and mar­kets allow them to sell all of the cof­fee as organic and get the pre­mium because it is organic, the return has been hefty.

However, many grow­ers have gone the organic route from the stand­point of ide­ol­ogy or world­view. They see them­selves as pro­tec­tors of the land, and believe that good land stew­ard­ship is a respon­si­ble approach that they want cer­ti­fied. Given the mul­ti­tude of brochures/pamphlets/websites that pro­claim the behav­iors and ben­e­fits asso­ci­ated with cer­ti­fied organic pro­duc­tion, it is dif­fi­cult to chalk those up to mere greedy green­wash. My own inter­ac­tion with grow­ers over the years con­vinces me that many grow­ers with organic cer­ti­fi­ca­tion are in it for all the right rea­sons, i.e., because it is a respon­si­ble way to farm and a cer­ti­fi­ca­tion is the only inde­pen­dent, non-conflict of inter­est way of iden­ti­fy­ing one’s farm­ing tech­niques. I do not think any­one should need con­vinc­ing of the fal­lacy of self-reporting, self-monitoring, etc. that accom­pa­nies a lot of the direct rela­tion­ship arrangements.

Of course, a num­ber of roast­ers have devel­oped their own set of cri­te­ria and third-party eval­u­a­tion. But that rarely, at least in my readings/experience, involves the use of syn­thetic fer­til­iz­ers and/or pes­ti­cides. And even if it does, I have never heard of a roaster refus­ing the cof­fee from one of his favorite sources because of non-met cri­te­ria in the eval­u­a­tion. But all of these argu­ments ignore the very basic issue of what cer­ti­fied organic means for the con­sumer and for the land upon which the cof­fee is being produced.

Coffee qual­ity in the spe­cialty mar­ket reigns above all else; that is a tru­ism. But I would argue that there are a host of cof­fee con­sumers who would rather drink a very good cer­ti­fied organic cof­fee than opt for an excel­lent “rela­tion­ship” cof­fee that is plied with high lev­els of petroleum-based fer­til­iz­ers and sprayed with toxic cock­tails of pes­ti­cides. Ask the grower who has ben­e­fited not only from the pre­mium but also from a soil (a fun­da­men­tal vari­able in pro­duc­ing cof­fee in terms of qual­ity and quan­tity) that only gets richer with time as the organic prac­tices are applied year after year.

Rick Peyser, Director of Social Advocacy and Supply Chain Community Outreach, Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, a leader in spe­cialty cof­fee and cof­fee mak­ers: Organic cer­ti­fi­ca­tion of prod­ucts includ­ing spe­cialty cof­fee focuses on how prod­ucts were grown, i.e., on healthy soil, with­out syn­thetic chem­i­cals, etc. This cer­ti­fi­ca­tion is con­ducted by an inde­pen­dent third party. Any argu­ment that solely advances the eco­nomic ben­e­fit of this cer­ti­fi­ca­tion to pro­duc­ers misses the mark. While eco­nom­ics are crit­i­cally impor­tant, so are the envi­ron­ment and water­shed where the farm­ers and their fam­i­lies live. The promise of higher yields via inten­sive and expen­sive inputs has con­tributed to defor­esta­tion and the gen­eral degra­da­tion of the envi­ron­ment that has had a neg­a­tive impact on soil fer­til­ity, water­ways, migra­tory birds and other wildlife, and on human health. The “pre­mium” paid for organic cer­ti­fi­ca­tion, while help­ful to the small-scale farm­ing fam­ily, is still by itself usu­ally not enough to lift this fam­ily out of poverty. Paying the farmer the “equiv­a­lent” of the organic pre­mium in lieu of organic cer­ti­fi­ca­tion lim­its the farmer’s audi­ence of buy­ers, poten­tially lock­ing the farmer in to one buyer with its own pro­pri­etary cer­ti­fi­ca­tion that is not well rec­og­nized by most con­sumers. This “equiv­a­lent” pre­mium is still not suf­fi­cient for the farmer or the greater envi­ron­ment. More is needed.

Daniele Giovannucci, Executive Director, Committee on Sustainability Assessment (COSA), which offers a highly regarded global bench­mark used by lead­ing global com­pa­nies and inter­na­tional devel­op­ment agen­cies: A good price is very impor­tant as are good rela­tion­ships; this is not in ques­tion. But we have learned that this is not enough. Quite sim­ply: price is nec­es­sary but not suf­fi­cient for sus­tain­abil­ity. Considering only the finan­cial com­po­nent is very short-sighted and can negate the other con­sid­er­able fac­tors oper­at­ing in any pro­duc­tion sys­tem: social, envi­ron­men­tal and eco­nomic ones. This has been amply demon­strated by thou­sands of COSA sur­veys and by a num­ber of other cred­i­ble sci­en­tific inves­ti­ga­tions just in the past few years.

We no longer live in a world of arm’s-length trans­ac­tions where we all know and trust each other, so third-party cer­ti­fi­ca­tions, such as organic, have become a vital way to rea­son­ably ensure that con­sumers (and firms) get what they expect for their money. Equally impor­tant, if not more so, we need clear assur­ances that the approaches we use enable pro­duc­ers to also achieve their own goals of sat­is­fac­tion, healthy envi­ron­ment, and a decent livelihood.

Stephen Schulman, Director of Business Development/Corporate Division, S&D Coffee, which, as the nation’s largest cus­tom roaster, is bring­ing sus­tain­able cof­fees to scale: There has been a par­a­digm shift among U.S. con­sumers. As can be seen by the rapid tra­jec­tory in growth in the organic mar­ket (which reached almost $29 bil­lion in 2010), today’s U.S. con­sumers want “all things organic,” and assume and expect that any­thing organic is “bet­ter” or “higher qual­ity.” The seg­ment of the con­sumers com­mit­ted to the organic lifestyle is increas­ing, and they want to sup­port all that organic rep­re­sents. Let’s look at the fig­ures. Organic cof­fee sales con­tinue to grow rapidly, as can be seen from the Organic Trade Association’s 2011 Organic Industry Survey. This report showed that sales of organic cof­fee were up 17.5 per­cent in 2010 from those in 2009. Similarly, sales of organic cof­fee cer­ti­fied to the SMBC’s Bird Friendly shade-grown cof­fee pro­duc­tion stan­dard rose from about $1.5 mil­lion in 2005 to more than $4 mil­lion in 2010 (assum­ing $9 per pound). The three years from 2007 to 2010 saw an aver­age of 25 per­cent annual increase in the vol­ume of Bird Friendly roasted and sold in the North American mar­ket, a growth mir­rored glob­ally as well. Consumers care about the organic label, and what it rep­re­sents to the envi­ron­ment and producers.

The experts have spo­ken. Organic cer­ti­fi­ca­tion is impor­tant not only from an eco­nomic per­spec­tive, but also because con­sumers expect it and are seek­ing it out, and both soci­ety and the envi­ron­ment ben­e­fits from it. There is more to spe­cialty cof­fee than money.

Sandra Marquardt is the cof­fee spokes­woman for the Organic Trade Association and President of On the Mark Public Relations.