Taipei, Nov. 20 (CNA) Coffee producers from Central America and Indonesia were out in force at the 2021 Taiwan International Coffee Show Saturday, pushing a message of sustainable supply chains to help support ordinary farmers and their families back home.
“We have seen statistics: For every five U.S. dollars some big brands make, the farmer only gets one cent. As you can imagine, it’s an unfair game,” Elias Rivera, CEO and founder of Zircle Coffee, told CNA.
Rivera, who is from Honduras, explained how his company promotes sustainable supply chains by working with small farms and buying coffee beans from them at a 10-20 percent premium compared to local prices.
The Honduran said he buys at a higher price because he has seen big coffee brands and intermediaries take advantage of smaller farms, which are vulnerable because they do not have access to current information about the value of their product.
“We are trying to form long-term relationships with the farmers, they are the most important people, but actually they are the ones who get the least.”
And Rivera was not the only one promoting sustainable coffee at the annual show, now in its 19th year, which is being held between Friday and Monday at the Taipei Nangang Exhibition Center.
Among the some 230 exhibitors across 820 booths was Guatemalan coffee importer Alvaro Lopez from JAK International trade company.
Lopez said that one of the big farms he works with supports three schools, two hospitals, one high school, and an apartment complex where the workers can live for free.
He finds the program meaningful because it means kids will not spend their childhood just working on farms, adding that the big farm he works with gives the children of the farmers access to free education and scholarships depending on their grades.
“Sometimes kids prefer to help their parents’ farm so they will earn more profits, but we prefer the kids to go to school and learn skills. If the kids later want to become farmers, that is great, but at least they have tools to improve their lives.”
There is also a family of four that Lopez buys coffee from because without the support it would be very hard to find overseas buyers for their beans.
“It is very important to have that relationship with the person who is actually in the farm instead of the businessman who is in the office and might not even know how the coffee is actually processed.”
Closer to home, Taiwanese Aimee Chan , a manager from coffee company EOE Indonesia, said her business works with local farmers who produce Luwak coffee to help them empower themselves.
Luwak coffee, also known as “Kopi Luwak” in Indonesian, is made from coffee cherries eaten, partially digested and defecated by the Asian palm civet, which is native to South and Southeast Asia.
The company promotes producing Luwak coffee made from the droppings of wild civets, rather than caged ones, Chan said.
“I love animals … and when we opened EOE Indonesia, the one thing we wanted to do was preserve the environment, and caging the luwak is not part of that,” said Peter Masyuni, the head of the company, during his visit to Taiwan last year.
Considered one of the biggest food-related trade events in the region, the show attracts close to 200,000 visitors every year.
Sources:The Overseas Community Affairs Council (OCAC )