World-leading coffee roasters and traders joined forces with stakeholders to improve the economic sustainability of the industry and encourage other organizations and countries to do the same.
International coffee prices have been on a ongoing downward trajectory since 2016, and with coffee year 2018-19 marking the second consecutive year of coffee production surplus, the economic sustainability of the industry has been called into question.
To discuss a commitment to shared and individual time-bound actions on the coffee price crisis, industry leaders gathered in the United Kingdom under the guidance of the International Coffee Organization (ICO).
The first ICO CEO and Global Leaders Forum, held from 23 to 25 September, resulted in 12 roasters or traders – illycaffè, Jacobs Douwe Egberts, Lavazza, Mercon, Neumann Kaffee Gruppe, Nestlé, Ecom Trading, Olam, Starbucks, Sucafina, Tchibo, and Volcafe – signing the London Declaration on price levels, price volatility, and the long-term sustainability of the coffee sector.
The Latin American and Caribbean Network of Fair Trade Producers, Fairtrade International, Global Coffee Platform, Hanns R Neumann Stiftung, Sustainable Trade Initiative, National Coffee Association of USA, Oikocredit, Rainforest Alliance, Rusteacoffee, Specialty Coffee Association, and Sustainable Coffee Challenge have also supported the declaration. More industry leaders and organisations are considering joining this global effort.
Andrea Illy, Chairman of illycaffé, tells Global Coffee Report that the London Declaration has the merit to bring together a broad number of stakeholders to commit to a short-, medium-, and long-term plans on the sustainability of the coffee sector.
“We have to recognize that prices remain an issue on which we have to keep working hard. On one side, we are seeing the same dynamics of the past with long-term cycles and high volatility caused by oversupply and exogenous factors, while on the other side, the differentiation strategy has notably increased differentials,” Illy says.
“The best strategy for the future is undoubtedly to continue on this same path, which entails investing more in differentiation though agronomical and genetic improvements, as well as new agricultural niches. Traceability and differentiation have also favored and increased grower-roaster cooperation, giving them the opportunity to surprise and delight consumers, commanding at the same time higher premiums, with benefits – in term of economic, social, and environmental impact – for all the stakeholders involved.”