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Starbucks, Ford Foundation, Oxfam America and CEPCO Announce Innovative Collaboration to Increase the Supply of High Quality Fair Trade Coffee

Published 07-29-02

Submitted by Starbucks Corporation

SEATTLE,Washington, WASHINGTON, D.C., NEW YORK, New York, and BOSTON, Massachusetts - Starbucks Coffee Company (Nasdaq: SBUX), the Ford Foundation, Oxfam America and CEPCO (Oaxacan State Coffee Producers Network), announced today their collaboration in a unique pilot project to help small-scale Mexican coffee producers expand their access to the global marketplace and increase the availability of high quality Fair Trade certified coffee. This collaboration aims to enhance the livelihood and capabilities of small-scale coffee farmers and simultaneously improve the experience of coffee drinkers.

"Producing high quality coffee, consistently and in sufficient quantity to meet the requirements of the specialty coffee industry is key to the survival of small farmer organizations in Central America and Mexico," said Orin Smith, president and CEO of Starbucks. "The Ford Foundation, Oxfam America and Starbucks share a common interest in working with farmers to ensure their future in their businesses and the sustainability of the industry."

Oxfam America and CEPCO, Mexico’s largest cooperative of small-scale coffee producers, will implement the innovative partnership in the state of Oaxaca. Starbucks and the Ford Foundation have committed a total of $250,000 to the pilot for its first year. The comprehensive quality program will provide farmers with valuable technical assistance, market information and product quality feedback. Ultimately, the project seeks to strengthen trading relationships between small-farmer fair trade cooperatives and coffee roasters in the U.S. specialty coffee industry.

With coffee prices at historic lows, farmers who produce high quality coffee are better positioned to earn higher prices and generate greater income for their families. Oxfam America has worked with small-farmer coffee cooperatives for more than 30 years, and believes that quality-the cup quality, the rewards in pricing for quality, and the perception of quality-is one of the major challenges to increasing the amount of coffee sold at fair trade prices. This partnership will support small-scale farmers’ efforts to redefine ‘quality coffee’ to mean coffee that is environmentally, socially and economically beneficial, in addition to being high quality.

"Oxfam America is committed to finding new and innovative ways to secure a greater market share for small-scale coffee farmers-CEPCO is incredibly well positioned to pioneer the implementation of this effort," said Raymond C. Offenheiser, president of Oxfam America. "We commend Starbucks and the Ford Foundation for their willingness to join us in this original and ground-breaking partnership that will help change the way these small farmers participate in the global specialty coffee market."

"CEPCO’s coffee farmers are hardworking and they’re very proud of the coffee they produce," explains Jaime Hernández, General Manager of CEPCO. "In addition to feeling responsible for making a product that is of high quality, clean and tastes good, they know that coffee is their livelihood, part of their lives. We’re aiming to increase coffee consistency so we can always offer the same high quality coffee. We’ll be able to ask for the right price for our good work too-improving our business."

"Certified Fair Trade coffee is a powerful mechanism for assuring that very small scale, often impoverished coffee producers receive the equivalent of ‘living wage’ prices for their coffee," according to Michael Conroy, Senior Program Officer at the Ford Foundation. "It provides assurance to socially aware consumers that their coffee was produced and traded under the highest standards of social and environmental responsibility. And it gives coffee roasters and retailers a guarantee that the coffee has not been produced under conditions that exploit either the coffee farmers or the environment."

Project objectives

The overarching goals of the project are to:

Increase the supply of high quality Certified Fair Trade coffee for the U.S. specialty coffee market from small-farmer cooperatives;

Improve the skills of small-scale coffee farmers by providing resources and training to implement and standardize post-harvest quality improvement;

Provide information and support to enable farmers to earn premium prices for their coffee by producing a high quality product;

Enable the farmers to disseminate their learnings to other coffee cooperatives.

About Fair Trade coffee

In the Fair Trade system, farmers form and participate in democratically run cooperatives that, in turn, sell their beans at guaranteed prices. The minimum fair trade price the buyer currently pays for non-organic green coffee is $1.26/lb and $1.41 for organic green coffee. In addition, Fair Trade seeks to create direct trade links between farmers and their customers, to provide access to credit and crop financing, and to promote sustainable farming practices. Fair Trade Certification provides consumers with a guarantee that the fair trade price was paid for the product, and that it was purchased from one of the cooperatives listed in the Fair Trade Labelling Organizations International (FLO) registry.

Project participants

The funding from Starbucks and the Ford Foundation will be used to provide technical assistance and employ personnel dedicated to the pilot program. Oxfam America and CEPCO will work with farmers on all aspects of post-harvest quality control. One of the key elements of this work will be the introduction or refinement of coffee tasting, or "cupping", an essential skill for small farmer organizations to develop in order to better manage coffee quality. Participating farmers will be trained to teach other farmers the same techniques. In addition to providing funding, Starbucks will also work closely with Oxfam America and CEPCO to provide technical support, market information and quality feedback.

About Oxfam America

Oxfam America is an international development organization dedicated to creating lasting solutions to hunger, poverty and social injustice around the world. Oxfam provides financial, technical and networking assistance to grassroots groups to support their self-help community development initiatives. Oxfam also advocates among national and international policy-makers, suggesting humane public policies that address structural impediments to ending poverty and hunger. In addition, Oxfam educates Americans about the causes and solutions to world hunger and poverty. A major component of our educational and policy work is campaigning throughout the U.S. to get Americans actively behind the important policy issues that we believe will make significant differences to poor communities.


CEPCO (Oaxacan State Coffee Producers Network) is the largest association of small-scale coffee producers in Mexico’s state of Oaxaca. Established in 1989 in response to the continuing crisis of low coffee prices in one of the poorest states in Mexico, CEPCO’s membership has grown to include 16,000 farmers and 44 cooperatives. Since it's inception, it has helped farmers improve coffee production techniques and realize higher profits through cooperative marketing efforts. In addition to helping small farmers deliver high quality coffee while earning a living wage, many of CEPCO’s members practice organic farming - currently 6,350 farmers have achieved organic certification. An organization rooted in Oaxaca's indigenous communities, CEPCO works to strengthen and empower these peoples, addressing issues of social justice, cultural autonomy and grassroots democracy.

About Starbucks Coffee Company

Starbucks Coffee Company is the leading retailer, roaster and brand of specialty coffee in the world. In addition to its retail locations in North America, Europe, the Middle East and the Pacific Rim, Starbucks sells coffee and tea products through its specialty operations, including its online store at Additionally, Starbucks produces and sells bottled FrappuccinoÃ’ coffee drink and a line of superpremium ice creams through its joint venture partnerships. The Company's other brands enhance the Starbucks Experience through best-of-class products: Tazo Tea Company offers a line of innovative premium teas, and Hear Music produces and distributes a line of exceptional compact discs.

About the Ford Foundation

The Ford Foundation, established in 1936, is a private, nonprofit institution that serves as a resource for innovative people and institutions worldwide. Its goals are to strengthen democratic values, reduce poverty and injustice, promote international cooperation, and advance human achievement. A national and international philanthropy with assets of some $10 billion, the Foundation has provided more than $12 billion in grants and loans worldwide. The Ford Foundation maintains headquarters in New York, offices in countries in Africa and the Middle East, Asia, Latin America, and an office in Russia.

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