I watched an eye-opening documentary last night called Black Gold, about the unfair coffee trade:
“Multinational coffee companies now rule our shopping malls and supermarkets and dominate the industry worth over $80 billion, making coffee the most valuable trading commodity in the world after oil.
But while we continue to pay for our lattes and cappuccinos, the price paid to coffee farmers remains so low that many have been forced to abandon their coffee fields.
Nowhere is this paradox more evident than in Ethiopia, the birthplace of coffee. Tadesse Meskela is one man on a mission to save his 74,000 struggling coffee farmers from bankruptcy. As his farmers strive to harvest some of the highest quality coffee beans on the international market, Tadesse travels the world in an attempt to find buyers willing to pay a fair price.
Against the backdrop of Tadesse’s journey to London and Seattle, the enormous power of the multinational players that dominate the world’s coffee trade becomes apparent. New York commodity traders, the international coffee exchanges, and the double dealings of trade ministers at the World Trade Organization reveal the many challenges Tadesse faces in his quest for a long term solution for his farmers.” Black Gold Movie
The documentary takes you from the birthplace of coffee, Ethiopia which still has some of the best coffee in the world to the trading floors of New York where 5 major trading corporations set the price of coffee (which currently is at an all time low) to meetings at WTO where decisions behind closed doors of the biggest players ultimately harm the 72,000 struggling coffee farmers in Ethiopia.
“Our hope is one day the consumer will understand what they are drinking. It is not only on coffee, all products are getting a very low price – and the producers are highly affected.” – Tadesse Meskela, Oromia Coffee Farmers Co-operative Union
I highly recommend watching this movie and getting involved.
As individuals we have little power to influence, but together as a whole the items we buy can influence markets.
Only buy fair-trade coffee which gives fair prices back to those producing it, and in countries like Ethiopia one of the worlds poorest countries in the world where their economy is over 60% based on sale of coffee, it’s a matter of survival.