Market volatility brings challenges for green bean suppliers

Market volatility brings challenges for green bean suppliers

Market volatility in the coffee sector is a major challenge facing green bean suppliers, Philip Searle, senior trader at DRWakefield has told Coffee Business World.

The supplier that works closely with roasters says that as the commodity price is low, many farmers, especially in east Africa and Ethiopia, are ripping up coffee plants and planting bananas and other agricultural crops.

“It is volatile and some years you will see the coffee market will go up and you will see farmers planting more coffee again,” says Searle.

“Coffee is an agricultural product and it changes year to year. While farmers keep it the same there are all these external conditions that can change whether its rain, sun or political factors within a country.”

He said that many of the problems within the industry and in particular with speciality are focused on cup profile and the taste of the coffee.

“But what we try to do is keep a long term partnership with the farmers,” he said.

“We started a project a few years ago called Project 121 that is bringing one smallholder farmer to one roaster. A large percentage of the sale price goes back to that single farmer and the aim is to support that farmer every year. It is an exclusivity thing and it helps the farmer grow. It may start with five bags of a top quality coffee and then the next year maybe six bags and so forth. It helps out the producer and makes sure they are getting a fair price.”

DRWakefield offers over 200 grades of coffee from different places around the world.

The company was started in the 1970s by Derek Wakefield and remains in private ownership. It originally started with coffee from Papua New Guneau and Kenya. 

It also works with Swiss Water to decaffeinate its coffee beans. It revealed that sales of it decaff have increased by 7%.


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