On 9 June, the International Coffee Organisation (ICO) announced a new, groundbreaking deal called “International Coffee Agreement 2022”. In the spirit of collaboration, the organisation formally welcomed among its midst “the world’s biggest coffee retailers, roasters and manufacturers, together with coffee farmers” for the first time in 60 years.
The Chair of the International Coffee Council, H.E. Ambassador Iván Romero-Martínez of Honduras, has complimented the strength and unity of the coffee sector, as it is committed “to making the coffee value chain more sustainable, inclusive and resilient.”
The new Agreement comes two years after ICO formed the Coffee Public-Private Task Force in a joint effort to set out “new commitments towards achieving a prosperous, sustainable and inclusive coffee sector.” This was the first time in history that the biggest public and private players in the coffee sector aligned their views and interests and joined forces.
Vanusia Nogueira, who joined in May as ICO’s first female Executive Director, said that the arrival of some of the biggest names in the coffee sector, as well as smallholders, means they can address the biggest challenges in the industry. One of the major issues has to do with price volatility.
Nogueira added, “We want to create a brighter future for millions of coffee farmers by adhering to the United Nations’ Sustainability Development Goals and work for more transparency, quality and fair pricing for billions of consumers. The new Agreement is a huge step in this direction.”
The new Agreement marks the beginning of a new era as exporters and importers will work together to implement strategies to tackle the challenges in the coffee industry. This includes “development projects and mobilising resources in areas such as pest and disease control, climate change adaptation among other mitigating strategies.”
The ICO remains intergovernmental in its nature, but the aforementioned Coffee Public-Private Task Force has become part of the ICO as the Coffee Public-Private Working Party. Additionally, the Agreement saw some changes in the modus operandi of the ICO following the transformation in the coffee industry over the last 30 years.
ICO’s internal voting system has been redefined, addressing “distortions between producing (exporting) and consumer (importing) countries as well as Arabica versus Robusta coffee-producing nations.” The membership contributions system has also been modified, which should “increase the financial sustainability of the organisation and its capacity to carry out its mandate.”
The world drinks over 2 billion cups of coffee per day. Globally, coffee farmers produce over 10 million tonnes of coffee each year. Hopefully, the new Agreement will provide them with the compensation they deserve.