Of the 1.6 million farmers and workers involved in Fairtrade around the world, about half are small-scale coffee farmers. Coffee was the first product to be Fairtrade certified when the first Fairtrade coffee from Mexico hit shelves in the Netherlands in 1988. Currently Fairtrade coffee farmers can be found in 30 countries.
Around the world, 25 million smallholders produce 70-80 percent of the world’s coffee, which is one of the reasons why Fairtrade focuses its efforts on small producer organizations. No matter what or where your favourite cup of coffee is – fresh ground or instant, in a café or in your kitchen – there will be a Fairtrade product for you.
Fairtrade Coffee Facts
Nearly half of all Fairtrade producers are coffee growers with roughly 812,500 small-scale farmers organized in 445 producer organizations, according to the 2015 Fairtrade Monitoring and Impact Report.
Coffee farmers in 30 countries produce according to Fairtrade Standards.
80 percent of Fairtrade coffee comes from Latin America (mostly from Colombia, Brazil, Peru, Nicaragua and Costa Rica), but Fairtrade coffee farmers also live in countries like Uganda, Tanzania and Indonesia.
In 2013-14, coffee farmers received €49 million in Fairtrade Premium funds.
Fairtrade farmers cultivate Arabica (milder and more expensive) and Robusta (stronger and less expensive) coffee beans.
Coffee is Fairtrade consumers’ favourite product, accounting for 25 percent of all retail sales.
Fairtrade Impact for Small-scale Coffee Farmers
The global price of coffee tends to rise and fall like a roller coaster. This volatility is due to a number of factors which can include bouts of disease – such as the recent leaf rust epidemic in Central America – unpredictable weather patterns, large harvests from major origins (like Brazil, Vietnam or Colombia) or wide-ranging speculation in future markets.
Fairtrade aims to give farmers stability in this unpredictable market environment by offering a Fairtrade Minimum Price, which protects them from volatile price drops. If the market price exceeds the Fairtrade Minimum Price, farmers negotiate with buyers to sell at a higher price based on quality and other factors. Check out our Minimum Price and Premium table for the current Fairtrade Minimum Prices.
In addition, coffee farmers receive a Fairtrade Premium of 20 cents per pound for conventional coffee and additional 30 cents per pound if produced organically. At least five cents per pound of the Fairtrade Premium is dedicated to improved production or quality.
Fairtrade focuses its efforts on organizing small-scale farmers who produce 70-80 percent of the world’s coffee
By supporting smallholder farmers to organize themselves into small producer organizations – such as cooperatives and associations – farmers can negotiate better terms of trade and Fairtrade can have a larger impact.
Challenges for Small-scale Coffee Farmers
In the coffee year 2014-15 (running from October to October), nearly 8.6 million tonnes of coffee were produced globally. This is largely thanks to the hard work of the 25 million smallholder coffee farmers around the world – who often see little of the $80 billion generated by the global coffee market each year. In fact, coffee farmers usually receive just 7-10 percent of the retail price of supermarket coffee – often not enough to afford a sustainable living.
Given price volatility and a low share of the final price, farmers find it difficult to make long-term plans. For example, coffee bushes need to be regularly replaced to maintain productivity, but newly planted bushes take four years to yield fruit and five to six years to produce optimal yields. This forces farmers to make the difficult choice of continuing with older bushes and dwindling productivity or investing in new plants in a highly volatile market.
Fairtrade strives to support farmers to earn a dignified living from the coffee they produce. In addition, Fairtrade farmers are encouraged to diversify their sources of income, involve the next generation in the coffee business to assure the industry’s future, establish long-term relationships with traders, and to pursue their right to a fair share of the global coffee industry.
General Coffee Facts
An estimated 1.6 billion cups of coffee are drunk every day. That’s over 18,500 cups per second.
Coffee beans start to grow as coffee cherries. After the ripe, red cherries are picked, they are washed, dried, and hulled. This yields green coffee beans, which are then roasted and ground to make coffee.
Coffee cherries ripen unevenly, so the harvest is a labour-intensive process with multiple visits to the same coffee bush during the harvest season.
Under the right conditions, green coffee can be stored for over a year, but roasted coffee should be brewed within 2-4 weeks to enjoy maximum freshness.
Brazil with around 30 percent and Vietnam with almost 20 percent of world production are the two largest coffee producing countries.
Recent Fairtrade News on Coffee
Fairtrade Farmers and Workers continue to benefit from Growing Sales and Increased Fairtrade Premium Investments11 April 2017
This week saw the official launch of the 8th edition of the Monitoring the Scope and Benefits of Fairtrade report by Fairtrade International, covering data from 2014-2015.
The German Council for Sustainable Development recognizes the World Fairtrade Challenge campaign as a "Sustainability Project 2017”
A new report from the Climate Institute shows coffee quality and cost will be impacted by climate change, but there are things we can do today. Climate change is already putting production and cost pressures on the supply of...
Buying and Selling Fairtrade
Fairtrade products are sold in over 130 countries. For more information on Fairtrade near you, visit Fairtrade Near You or select one of the countries in blue on the map below. If you’re interested in selling Fairtrade or sourcing Fairtrade products in your country, see our information about selling Fairtrade.
Guidance Documents for Fairtrade producers and buyers
Fairtrade International offers the following guidance documents as a complement to the Fairtrade Coffee Standard.
Guidance on Productivity and Quality Improvement
The following guidance document on productivity and quality improvements describes best practice in making investments with the 5 cents USD per pound of the Fairtrade Premium that is to be allocated toward investments in productivity and/or quality of Fairtrade Coffee.
Guidance on Price Risk Management
The following guidance document on price risk management strategies is also a tool for producers, and traders, to help them manage price risk, especially in the current context of high market price volatility.
Guidance on Applying Coffee Differentials
The following guidance document on applying differentials will help producers and traders appropriately apply differentials particularly in the case of Fairtrade organic Arabica and Robusta coffee.
If you would like to receive this guidance on applying coffee differentials directly into your e-mail account please let us know by sending an e-mail to: email@example.com
Previous Guidance on Applying Coffee Differentials
SP - Fairtrade Guidance on Applying Coffee Differentials (PDF) - January 27 - February 7, 2014
Find Fairtrade Minimum Prices and Premiums