Only 7% of coffee sold in the UK meets Fairtrade standards, research shows

Only 7% of coffee sold in the UK meets Fairtrade standards even though a “staggering” 98 million cups are consumed every day, according to new research.

The Fairtrade Foundation said the standards are a “critical lifeline” for coffee farmers, enabling them to cover their costs and build resilience against the threat of climate change.

Ahead of International Coffee Day on October 1, the Foundation is launching a campaign aimed at informing coffee lovers about the importance of fair prices for coffee.

The foundation said the average non-Fairtrade coffee farmer lives on as little as £1.37 a day, has little negotiating power in coffee supply chains and yet bears most of the risk.

The price farmers are paid fluctuates dramatically and has dipped this summer to below the cost of production.

Meanwhile, the climate crisis is disrupting coffee production, reducing quality and yield, and increasing farming costs.

More than 90% of Fairtrade Kenyan coffee farmers have already experienced the effects of climate change, citing erratic rainfall and an increase in pests and diseases, said the foundation.

Michael Gidney, chief executive of the Fairtrade Foundation, said: “It’s time to wake up and smell the coffee. Too many farmers still reeling from the pandemic and the climate crisis now have to contend with market prices that have dropped below the cost of production.

“This is forcing farmers to make difficult choices. I’d encourage everyone to choose Fairtrade coffee, which offers farmers the safety net of the Fairtrade Minimum Price and Premium – and so much more.”

Fairtrade Coffee farmer Gerardo Carvajal from Cooperative Manizales in Colombia said: “It’s very difficult to grow coffee now because rainfall patterns have changed and my farming costs have gone up. When production reduces, you lose income.

“Fairtrade gives me a safety net through the Minimum Price and Premium and the specialist training I receive from the Fairtrade producer network in Colombia.”

Longstanding Fairtrade ambassador Melissa Hemsley, a cookery writer, chef and sustainability expert who has visited coffee farmers in Kenya, commented: “Too many farmers struggle to put food on their tables while growing treats for us such as coffee. But we can change that through choices we make when we shop.”