Sustainability of The Coffee Industry, Farms, & The Families And People Who Run Them
From tree to cup, upwards of 100 million people are directly involved in the production of coffee, making it a global enterprise and a world wide top traded comodity. The size of our industry puts a great deal of pressure on its sustainability for generations to come. Many factors can affect the life span of the coffee market, two of which are labor and climate change.
Vital pieces of the coffee population include the 25 million farming families in developing nations along the equator, these nations are most affected by climate control. Coffee beans are harvested from these sensitive farms and then moved along the supply chain to be processed, shipped, roasted, packaged, and sold. Thus every part off this supply chain depends on proper conditions at the origin and has the responsibility to be mindful of how environmentally friendly their facilities are, if they're using sustainable supplies, and the damaging effects of their emissions. To disregard their effect on the environment would mean they're killing their own product. Not every company needs to launch a global initiative but can at least lead or encourage
a collective local effort. This is also important on the other side of the chain, the consumers. According to most studies, when making purchasing decisions the Millennial market will strongly rely on their trust in the company's ethical consciousness.
Labor has been shown to take 70% of production costs and that is an investment towards quality labor by providing good working conditions and proper wages. Labor positions at the farm need to be a respected and desired title in order to retain and appeal to future generations. That's why farm workers are calling out to the rest of the supply chain as well as their own governments for involvement in regulating these conditions. Independent studies done in Central and South America have shown an increase in yield, an in increase income, and lower costs over time when efforts are made to alleviate labor shortage, mitigate climate change, and safeguard human rights. Certification and verification is not enough for these farms. Knowledge of actual conditions and providing better technology and information for efficient and effective use of resources are the long term changes they need. This can easily be provided by the coffee industries main consumers, North America and Europe.
Success can only be measured in the next generation when everyone remains profitable and business models operate with an inherent mindfulness, not just short term initiatives. We shouldn't forget that the hands of the farmers harvesting coffee are as important to coffee's sustainability as the hands around the coffee cup.