Thursday, November 22, 2012

Wendleboe: breaks down coffee costs

In a remarkable written piece by Tim Wendleboe. He examines the true cost of coffee and how it's relatively cheap considering the amount of labour that goes into the production from farm to roast.
/ here is a snap shot of moving towards transparency, beyond labels:

"We payed USD 3.76 per lb of green coffee F.O.B. (Free on board, which means the coffee is delivered to the ship in Colombia for USD 3.76 per lb)
Out of this price, Elias (the farmer) ended up with a total of USD 2.73 per lb.
The $1,03 difference covered the following costs:
  • 45 cents went to the exporter, in this case Mr. Alejandro Renjifo and Fairfield Trading. In Colombia, due to certain problems with other produce in Colombia, the exporter of the coffee needs to have an export license. Farmers do not have this, so they can use any exporter they prefer, but normally it is chosen by the buyer.  Out of the 45 cents, Alejandro has to pay for shipping of samples, export documentation, transport of coffee to the dry mill, transport from the mill to the ship, interest on the pre-financing of the coffee, etc. In addition, Alejandro needs to make a living, pay employees, pay rent on his offices, etc.
  • Coocentral (the cooperative Elias has chosen to work with in Huila) charged 7 cents for pre-financing his coffee (paying Elias the market price for the coffee upon delivery) storage, and quality control. They also provide agronomic assistance, sample preparation, and help Elias with issues he might have.
  • The dry-milling costs 40 cents per lb. The parchment, sticks and stones need to be removed from the coffee. Then, the coffee is sorted on screen size, density and all physical defects are removed by electronic sorting machines. The coffee is then packed in Grain-pro and jute bags to be ready for export.
  • We also had to pay an additional 11 cents for grain-pro bags as this is not standard. Grain-pro bags are an inner plastic bag layer, which further protects the coffee in shipment and storage."
What's interesting point in his piece is the risk to the farmers, and the appetite at which consumers are willing to pay for coffee. The market price hasn't made headlines and still reflect prices from 30 years ago. How can we demand people make a decent wage if the market doesn't value this price....

Full piece here

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