Issues > Food & Drink > People > Fair Trade Coffee
Coffee is a major industry in Australia and a big part of our culture. An estimated 19 million Australians drink coffee every day, with the industry bringing in $3.18 billion in revenue for 2020. But have you ever thought about the millions of people across the world whose livelihoods depend on coffee production? Unfortunately, many are unable to earn a reliable living wage. Volatile coffee bean prices, changing weather conditions, difficulties with disease, and a lack of bargaining power put significant pressure on farmers. This is compounded by a coffee bean price that has been declining for the last decade. In some cases, farmers earn less than one cent from a $3 cup of coffee!
But if coffee is such a profitable product and growers live so poorly, where does all that money go? Well, most of the profits are pocketed by the roasters, which are overwhelmingly large multinational companies. The biggest of these in the Australian market include Nestle, JDE Peet's, and Coca-Cola Europacific Partners. Many large Australian businesses, like Vittoria Coffee, also have a significant market share.
While far from perfect, Fairtrade-certified coffee is a solid alternative. Farmers who are certified get a minimum price for their beans, protecting against unpredictability. They also receive a premium to invest in their business or local community. Another plus is the audits which aim to prevent child and forced labour, discrimination, and other poor work conditions. A more ideal solution is to buy from companies that both grow and roast the beans themselves. This cuts out the multinationals taking the profits and ensures equitable pay for growers.
What you can do:
Look for products with the certified Fairtrade symbol, preferable from from small, independent, Australian-owned roasters.