The Coffee Paradox: Global Markets, Commodity Trade and the Elusive Promise of Development

The Coffee Paradox: Global Markets, Commodity Trade and the Elusive Promise of Development

Language: English

Pages: 320

ISBN: 1842774573

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


This book recasts the "development problem" for countries relying on commodity exports in entirely new ways by analyzing the so-called coffee paradox--the coexistence of a "coffee boom" in consuming countries and of a "coffee crisis" in producing countries. In consuming countries, coffee continues to grow in popularity. At the same time, international coffee prices have fallen dramatically and producers receive the lowest prices in decades. As long as coffee farmers and their organizations do not control at least parts of this production, they will remain on the losing end.

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so. These observations provide the framework for theoretical and practical approaches in solving the commodity problem (and the coffee paradox). In this section, we highlight three theoretical dimensions linked to the solution: (1) changing quality conventions; (2) promoting transparency and consumer–producer connectivity; (3) territoriality as a vehicle for embedding value at the production level; and (4) consumers (and other actors along the chain) as agents of change. Changing quality

consumption markets. This partly explains the existence of a coffee paradox in the global value chain for coffee. Farmers and other producer-country actors sell material coffee. In consuming countries, coffee is sold packaged with symbolic and in-person service components, which value is firmly controlled by roasters, retailers and coffee bar owners. This is perhaps best exemplified by the text of a Starbucks advertisement placed in an American magazine in 2004: Sometimes the coffee stirs you. A

standards only require that ‘in those regions where coffee has traditionally been cultivated beneath shade trees, producers must maintain or establish a canopy cover of mixed native trees’. This requirement includes at least 12 species of native trees that are well distributed around the farm, a density of shade tree species of 70 trees per hectare, two shade strata, and a minimum proportion of evergreen species. Shade-grown coffee was practically unknown in the market before 1997. In 2000/1,

socio-economic preoccupations. As in other agro-food products, several groups and initiatives are trying to assert leadership. Coffee has been a leading product for fair trade organizations and environmentalists. Several labels have been created, including organics, fair trade and bird-friendly. Some recent initiatives, however, are attempting to mainstream sustainability and take the ground from the early labels: the Rainforest Alliance initiative, Utz Kapeh and the Common Code for the Coffee

hulling, drying, export preparation, and roasting) as a proportion of the final price (as in Talbot 1997a and Fitter and Kaplinsky 2001), we calculated the prices paid at various nodes in the value chain in terms of the equivalent weight of roasted coffee. This means that the price indicated at the farm level is not the actual price received by the farmer for dry cherry coffee, but the equivalent price once all the weight losses are accumulated. Table 6.1 and Figure 6.3 suggest that the process

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