Hi Joachim, this is a crucial question today. Learning about the complexities of the coffee supply chain is essential for the industry's future.
So, let me answer your question. In short, yes. We can pay more to coffee farmers than we do now. And not only that, we need to pay them more if we want to drink coffee in the not-so-distant future.
Recent trends in coffee prices signal a steep increase in prices. According to most experts, it might be the consequence of extreme climate events in Brazil last year. As you may know, Brazil is the largest coffee producer. For this reason, the devastating effects of last year's frost provoked a significant increase in coffee prices.
So, although coffee prices rose, it means that hundreds, if not thousands, of producers are at risk because of this single event. And as climate change keeps threatening farms globally, we should be concerned about it.
Currently, most of the risk in the coffee industry relies on the farmers' shoulders. Most coffee producers are small-farm owners, so they don't have the resources to face these issues most of the time. In many cases, environmental changes force producers towards more reliable and profitable businesses out of the farms.
In other words, to keep coffee producers in the business, we need to pay them more. As a solution, the Fair Trade movement has been trying to address it by setting some standards to pay a premium to coffee farmers. Specialty coffee buyers work with producers to increase quality standards and pay better prices.
However, researchers suggest that it might not be enough for many producers in both cases. In fact, better prices would have to be higher than the current market price for producers to stay afloat. Anyhow, I think it's a good start, and we should keep pushing coffee producers up the value chain.
Today, better prices are essential to maintain coffee businesses in most producing regions. But this is not enough. While some experts claim that premium exports are crucial, others argue that consumption in producing countries is fundamental for sustainability.
In any case, consumers will have to pay even higher prices than we are used to. And it will take a radical change in our mindset to accept and embrace coffee as a pricier product.