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Current Topics

Sustainable Coffee
As members of our ACTA we are familiar with and supportive of sustainable agriculture! With growing emphasis in the media on this subject, it may be opportune to update and clarify the current position, particularly in view of substantially higher world coffee prices.
Under the control of Oxfam (as are World Vision), this is a farming programme that has been established to restrict the sale of coffee to licensees only, at minimum established price levels – currently 126 US cents / lb.
With strict certifying criteria and regular auditing, this programme attempts to support farmers¡¦ incomes whilst ensuring prices reflect sustainable agriculture.
Without doubt the more militant in its approach often enlisting the student vote and targeting high profile cafes and American chains.
With quality issues and in more recent times non fulfilment of contracts, questions are being asked as to their Bona Fide.
Rainforest Alliance
Established in the late 80¡¦s Rainforest Alliance certification is managed by the Sustainable Agriculture Network (SAN) ¡V a coalition of independent, non-profit conservation groups – to help farmers cope with the erratic swings in the global market and by enabling them negotiating leverage and access to the entire world market.
By implementing sound practices and sustainable farm management systems, farmers are able to reduce costs, become more efficient and primarily improve crop quality.
The Rainforest Alliance members are not directly involved in the negotiations between farmers and their product buyers. However, most farmers are able to use their certification as leverage to command a price premium, generally an additional 20-30% over the market.
Utz Certified
UTZ CERTIFIED is responsible for creating an open and transparent marketplace for agricultural products. In just over five years UTZ CERTIFIED has grown to be one of the leading coffee certification programs worldwide, and is now expanding to become a multi-commodity program. UTZ CERTIFIED’s vision is to achieve sustainable agricultural supply chains, that meet the growing needs and expectations of farmers, the food industry and consumers alike.
With its in-depth Code of Conduct, the program gives independent assurance of sustainable production and sourcing and offers online real-time traceability of agricultural products back to their origin.
Current Differences between Fairtrade Certificate and Rainforest Alliance Certification
Fairtrade certification is an alternative marketing system designed to give the disadvantaged farmers guaranteed prices for their product.
The SAN programme (Rainforest Alliance) on the other hand, focuses on how farms are managed rather than how products are traded. SAN standards cover all of the issues that need to be considered on the path towards sustainability, including worker protection and the right to a safe, clean working environment. Rainforest Alliance and SAN work with all types of farms from small co-operatives and family farms to large plantations.
Causes for Concern
Some points that our members should consider: –

Current record 7 year price levels and how these reflect on sustainable agriculture.

Ever increasing defaults and non-fulfilment of contracts by some certified producers.

Producers¡¦ obligation in light of market developments.

Ensuring quality adequately reflects premiums paid for sustainable coffee.

Militant activity by some uninformed groups.

Delineating high priced quality coffees from low grade, poor quality bulks and subsequent minimum prices paid.

Your Association is working closely with sustainable / conservation groups to ensure a fair and accurate representation of our industry as a whole is portrayed. We are aware there are issues that are becoming increasingly political in nature and not always within established guidelines. These issues require careful discussion and unified responses. Our association is well positioned to address these issues on your behalf and would gladly welcome your response to these and any other sustainable related matters.
Yours faithfully
ACTA Committee