The coffee industry must stop treating coffee as a commodity if it wants to ensure the sustainability of the activity in the future, according to Illycaffé president Andrea Illy. In addition, grain production needs to receive three times more investment than has been currently applied, an analysis that was shared by other business representatives during the "Promoting Competitive and Sustainable Production" panel, which opened the 1st Forum of CEOs and Global Leaders, hosted by the International Coffee Organization (ICO) in London.
"If you want to be something in the future, stop commodifying coffee," he said, noting that the sector's acute crisis, with falling prices, is already the biggest in 10 years, and pointing out that for three decades beans have turned into simple standardized products. "Our recommendation is to treat this as a long term strategy to create value."
At the event, which seeks contributions from all areas of the industry to the price crisis, the executive said it was not a matter of "blaming" roasters for the bad times. He considered that it is necessary to make consumption grow even more in the coming years, which could help producers. Illy cited that coffee has become, in addition to the pleasure of drinking, an ingredient that makes human beings longer and also known as a more inclusive and sustainable segment, which has created a positive perception. "This is what makes consumption grow," he said.
At the same event, Starbucks Purchasing Director and Senior Vice President Kelly Bengston underscored the coffee chain's work in terms of its proximity to the source of its raw material. "We have 100 million customers a week looking for quality coffee," he said. "That's why support for producers is so tied to our business."
Proposals against devaluation of coffee
In addition to stressing the need for more investment in production, Sucafina CEO Nicolas Tamari praised the search for a joint solution to the issue of lower prices and noted that the average margin increase among roasters is US $ 0.10 per cup. "I have no silver bullet, but the statement is a great start for us to try to resolve the issue. Not against each other, but together," he said. The perspective is that, at the end of the event, everyone will sign a statement with proposals to try to contain the devaluation of coffee.
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