Coffee Crisis 2019 - Will It Affect You
Recent reports have emerged suggesting that the global Coffee Industry has experienced a dramatic fall in prices since 2017. Evidence indicates that an increasing percentage of Coffee farmers, particularly in Central and South America, have abandoned their estates and plantations. This coffee crisis is part due to hunger and food insecurity, which may soon affect Coffee consumers around the world.
The Kent and Sussex Tea and Coffee Company have followed these stories closely. One article, published on the BBC News website, noted that “this May , prices fell to their lowest point in over a decade at $0.88 (£0.70) per pound”. Below you will find the latest information on this crisis and what the industry might need to do to find a solution.
What’s Happened and Why a Coffee Crisis?
Over the last two years, the industry has had a significant surplus of Coffee Beans from Brazil, the world’s largest producer. This has meant that other producers around the world have struggled to push their product onto the market.
Additionally, many South American countries have experienced food shortages. One study, for example, surveyed 469 households in El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico and Nicaragua. It found that 63% of Coffee-growing households suffered food insecurity.
This is particularly concerning because, as a rule of thumb. South America enjoys better food security than its Coffee-growing counterparts in Africa and Asia. Worst still, most Coffee farmers receive only one annual paycheck for their crop. This can lead to difficulty distributing that lump sum throughout the following year to meet all household needs.
At the end of 2018, a significant percentage of Central and South American farmers joined the migrant caravan to the United States due to the coffee crisis. On 15 July 2019, Time Magazine reported that US President Donald Trump’s administration had moved to end asylum protections for some of these migrants. This cutting down of the number of illegal border crossings could see former Coffee farmers having to make yet more difficult life decisions.
How Will the Coffee Crisis Affect You?
José Sette, executive director of the International Coffee Organization (ICO), told the BBC: "If farmers are discouraged today and they are not planting, not taking care of the coffee plants. that bodes very ill for the future, since demand is increasing by about 2% each year." In other words, less Central and South American Coffee farmers mean less Central and South American Coffee.
However, ethics also plays a vital role. There are suggestions, according to BBC News, that roasters should consider paying more for the green coffee beans. Yet, as the article noted, even this isn’t simple. Factors such as living and labour costs affect almost everyone, after all. “There’s no clear winner in the chain,'' said Mr Chuck Jones, a US-based roastery and cafe owner.
The end of the chain is, of course, the consumer. If the crisis continues, highstreet Coffee prices will likely increase. This may also affect products at The Kent and Sussex Tea and Coffee Company, with dozens of our Coffees originating from Central and South America. It appears, at least in this moment, that there’s no easy answer.
What’s The Solution?
With the food shortages, which have been the driving force for much of the coffee crisis, there are many challenges. It’s essential that any solutions address not only hunger issues, but also provide channels for Coffee professionals to get involved in driving positive outcomes. This is according to the Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA).
SCAA notes that ending hunger, in particular, should come from “improved trade relationships. Increased investment, and creative community development projects.” ICO also recommends diversifying small farm incomes with other sources of revenue. With additions like teaching risk-management and streamlining production chains. It’s likewise vital to combat climate change by adopting environmentally smart agriculture.
ICO’s Mr Sette added, “We need to also promote consumption of Coffee in Coffee-producing countries, where it is often low.” Additionally, consumers in developed countries such as the UK can help by choosing high-quality, speciality Coffee. This, in turn, takes the edge off the current influx of low-quality, cheap Coffee available through larger, corporate companies.
Make A Change Today
The Kent and Sussex Tea and Coffee Company stock a variety of Ethical Coffees from Central and South America. Many of these are certified by The Rainforest Alliance, an international non-profit organisation that, among other qualities, supports the livelihoods of Coffee farmers. Farmers that sign up to The Rainforest Alliance also receive fair pay, as well as access to schools and healthcare.
Choices of Ethical Coffees include El Salvador Rainforest Alliance Coffee, Guatemalan Rainforest Alliance Coffee and Nicaraguan Bird Friendly Coffee. Although buying these products won’t fix the problem, it may well be a step in the right direction in solving this coffee crisis. It’s also worth noting that we pack every Coffee, Loose Tea and Tisane fresh to order.