Thong Sout - Coffee Production Group Member. Photo: Timothy Herbert/OxfamAUS Photo: Timothy Herbert/OxfamAUS

Fairtrade coffee campaign

They’ve come a long, long way from the farm, to the cafe, to you – delicious coffee beans, ground and brewed just the way you like it.

But what if your daily cup of coffee is fuelling world poverty?

Wake up and smell the injustice

Most of the world’s coffee beans are produced by small-scale farmers in developing countries. They have little bargaining power in an industry dominated by a few large and powerful international coffee companies, so they’re forced to put up with low and unstable prices for their beans.

During the past decade, prices fell to a 30-year low with as little as three cents from a $3 cup of coffee reaching the farmers who grew the beans. This has affected 25 million small-scale farmers and their families, and resulted in poor nutrition and children being taken out of school.

World coffee prices have improved recently which has provided some relief for farmers and coffee workers. But the dynamics of the coffee market have not shifted in ways that guarantee long-term stability for those at the bottom of the supply chain.

Watch “The Okapa Connection” – a video following the journey of organic, fair-trade coffee from the growers in the Papua New Guinea, to the coffee shops of Australia.

Buy fair, feel good

Under the Fairtrade system, producers are paid a minimum price for their goods, with producer cooperatives receiving an extra amount to further their communities’ development. If the market price rises over the Fairtrade minimum, the Fairtrade price also rises.

Henri Ame manages Coffee Connections, a Fairtrade coffee distributor and member of the Papua New Guinea Highlands Organic Agriculture Cooperative.

“Coffee is the only source of income for our people,” he says. “So we’d like to encourage you, the consumers, to switch from other brands to organic Fairtrade, if you do that … you’ll be helping the grower at the origin who is struggling.”

Henri’s cooperative has used the money it has earned from Fairtrade sales to buy desks and textbooks for local schools, provide mattresses for the wooden beds at the local health centre and fix local roads.

Buy Fairtrade coffee and help producers to get a fair deal.

Support the campaign

Australians have embraced the Fairtrade coffee campaign with gusto:

  • Consumers are drinking it: Fairtrade coffee sales in Australia reached an estimated $50 million in 2009–2010, an increase of 30% on the previous year
  • Our supporters are demanding it: they sent more than 1,000 letters and emails to encourage Woolworths/Safeway to stock Fairtrade coffee. Fairtrade coffee now graces their shelves. (Coles, IGA and Ritchie supermarkets all now stock Fairtrade coffee and tea too.)
  • Australian companies are stocking it: companies, big and small, now provide Fairtrade products in their workplaces – yours can too. Download our Fairtrade coffee action kit (PDF, 189KB) and run your own campaign in your workplace, school or community group.

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