Co-operatives, coffee and crisis : The impact of Fair Trade coffee during the coffee crisis of 1999-2004

Titre Co-operatives, coffee and crisis : The impact of Fair Trade coffee during the coffee crisis of 1999-2004
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Auteur HEMMING LANG, Andreas
Date 2020/11
Pagination 112 p.
Notes Travail universitaire - University of Helsinki Faculty of Social Sciences Development studies Master’sthesis.
Résumé “This thesis studies the impact of Fair Trade coffee during the coffee crisis of 1999-2004, focusing on Fair Trade producing cooperatives in Latin America and especially the economic impacts of belonging to the Fair Trade coffee network at a time when conventional coffee prices had plummeted to levels not seen in a hundred years. The rationale behind the research topic is to explore the possibilities of an alternative trading structure, as conventional production and the concomitant trade of primary products has historically been fraught with numerous problems, including declining terms of trade. A global value chain approach is used as a theoretical framework for the analysis of both the conventional and Fair Trade coffee markets, and is used to scrutinize the concentrations of power among the different actors involved in the path of coffee from producer to consumer. As four fifths of Fair Trade coffee was produced in Latin America at the time of the coffee crisis, four case studies were chosen, concerning cooperatives in Mexico and Nicaragua. These case studies are studied in depth to gain a deeper understanding of the involvement in the Fair Trade coffee network. The studies indicate that at the microlevel, belonging to the Fair Trade network did indeed lead to significantly higher coffee prices received by producers. While the Fair Trade price that farmers received was up to more than double the price of selling to conventional middlemen, some producing cooperatives only managed to sell parts of their harvest as Fair Trade coffee, thus limiting the impact of belonging to the Fair Trade network. At a macro level Fair Trade was a marginal actor, with some half a million growers being a part of the Fair Trade network at the time of the crisis, while approximately 25 million growers were involved in conventional coffee production, thus limiting the possible impact of Fair Trade coffee. Other results were less robust. One explicit goal of Fair Trade, promoting gender equality, was mostly dependent on the previous local gender relations, and no clear improvement was found in Fair Trade producing communities. Stemming migration was another explicit Fair Trade goal, and here there results indicate that in some cases Fair Trade actually enabled migration, as higher incomes can enable people to migrate. As Fair Trade has been in the vanguard for ethical trading and ethical sourcing, one of the largest potential impacts of FairTrade is that of change in mainstream corporate culture through example and discussion. This is however a topic that warrants further research. »

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