Cafédirect, one of the UK's leading ethical hot drinks brands, is warning that an environmental crisis is threatening coffee production, which could ultimately lead to food service, hospitality businesses and their customers, facing shortages, declining quality, and soaring prices. Urgent action needs to be taken to support smallholder coffee farmers and enable them to adapt to protect their harvest.
Three-quarters of all coffee is produced by smallholder farmers, many of whom earn their living growing coffee on tiny patches of land in developing countries in Africa, Latin America and Asia. The impact of climate change has been devastating in recent years and has left them struggling to cope with a host of critical issues, including flooding, drought, pests and crop diseases.
The situation is so bad that some parts of the world, where coffee has been grown for generations, may soon become unsuitable for coffee production altogether. Unless urgent action is taken, the food service and hospitality industry will almost certainly face soaring prices for coffee - and could even face shortages of supply. Coffee quality is also being negatively affected as a result of the devastating effect climate change is having on weather patterns and growing conditions.
To draw attention to the crisis, Cafédirect has today launched a new report highlighting the environmental plight facing more than 6,000 smallholder farmers in Peru, who supply the company with high quality Arabica beans. The report - called Coffee Climate Crisis - tells the story of how smallholders are confronting torrential rain, flooding and landslides washing away valuable soil, destroying their crops and severely damaging infrastructure.
Nicola Pearson, commercial director at Cafédirect, said: "Climate change is now the biggest challenge that smallholder farmers are facing today. The story in the report is just one case study of the severe and devastating impact that it is having on smallholder farmers and their crops. Our report tells the inspiring story of how a co-operative of more than 6,000 farmers in Peru are pioneering new ways to adapt. But there are approximately 25 million coffee farming families in 60 countries around the world, so more needs to be done."
"The food service and hospitality industry has a hugely important role to play in this process. By specifying and procuring coffee only from responsible suppliers who invest in supporting smallholder farmers, it can help drive real change and send out a strong and positive message to consumers, too."
Cafédirect's "Call for Change" is that climate change adaptation be on the agenda of all major coffee suppliers and retailers; for sustainable financing of adaptation for smallholder farmers to be a priority; for other hot drinks companies to recognise the responsibility they have for the supply chain; that smallholders themselves recognise they are part of the solution and that the food service industry, businesses and coffee lovers everywhere choose their coffee wisely.
To support the industry move towards greater sustainability, Cafédirect has launched a free online tool to enable staff such as catering managers find simple and tailored ways to reduce their environmental impact. The toolkit assesses impact across four areas - waste, energy water and procurement. You can download this via www.cafedirect.co.uk/ecotoolkit.
By Lisa Jenkins
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