Coffee Facts & Figures

Current state of world coffee:
  • World price of raw coffee beans currently hovers around US$0.50 a pound, after an all-time low of US$0.42 in August 2001 (Source: Global Exchange).
    • Gourmet coffee retails for US$9-12 a pound.
  • Four multinational corporations handle nearly 40 percent of the world’s coffee — Nestle SA of
  • Switzerland, Procter & Gamble, Kraft Foods Inc., and Sara Lee. They purchase coffee in bulk and then roast, blend and grind it into supermarket brands such as Nescafe, Folgers or Maxwell House (source: Organic Consumers Association).
  • On small plantations, most pickers earn under $2 a day (source: Oxfam).
  • The World Bank estimates that 540,000 laborers in Central America have lost their jobs because of coffee’s low market price.
  • The US imports 3 billion pounds of coffee beans a year, almost one fifth of the coffee produced worldwide. (Source: International Coffee Org.)

Why buying Fair Trade, Organic, or Shade-Grown coffee matters:
  • Coffee is grown in 52 developing countries throughout Central America, South America, Africa and Asia. (Source: World Bank)
    • In many of these countries, coffee accounts for a large part of their export revenues: 50% of export revenues in Ethiopia, 80% in Burundi, (Source: Oxfam)
    • 25 million small farmers and more than half a billion people are directly or indirectly dependent on coffee. (Source: World Bank)
  • Small farmers grow coffee: 70% of the world’s coffee is grown on farms smaller than 25acres. (Source: Oxfam)
  • Coffee is grown on more than 26 million acres of land worldwide (about twice the amount of land used to grow apples). (Source: Food and Agriculture Organization)
Buying sustainable coffee means that the farmer:
  • Earns more
    • For example, a farmer earns a minimum of $1.26 per pound ($1.41 if also organic) for Fairly Traded coffee, compared to about $0.50 per pound for coffee sold on the general market. (Source: Fair Trade Labeling Organizations Int’l and International Coffee Org.)
  • Has an economic incentive to protect the environment by:
    • Encouraging biological diversity
      • In Nicaragua, shade grown coffee is grown under canopy with an average of 25 different tree species. (Source: Natural Resources Defense Council)
      • Shade-grown coffee has an average of 90% more bird species than sun coffee. (Source: NRDC)
    • Using no pesticides or only a small amount of pesticides.
      • Organic coffee must be grown without synthetic pesticides and only minimal amounts of pesticides can be used on bird-friendly/shade-grown coffee.


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