Raw coffee import, new coops and price development
New coffee harvest 2023
As our stock of raw coffee has been depleted during the winter months, importation of the new harvest is in progress. Stocks are replenished steadily, and there is some coffee from new coops. Consequently, all 5kg bulk packs are available again. After the imports' completion, we will recalculate Café Libertad's retail prices.
What we are importing this year
During the second half of April, the first four containers of the 2022/23 harvest's raw coffee arrived. Until June, another nine containers will follow, which amounts to a total import quantity of 241 500 kg. Of 3500 sacks of raw coffee, 3000 are certified organic.
We continue expanding our long-standing cooperation with resistant communities and self-organising cooperatives. The bulk of the imported coffee originates from Zapatista coops Yachil Xojobal Chulchán and Yochin Tayel Kinal, as well as from women's coop Aprolma from Honduras. Additionally, imports from Finca Sonador (Costa Rica) and Red EcolSierra (Colombia) complement Café Libertad's primary product line as usual.
However, the total quantity of available raw coffee from these coops has frequently needed to be supplemented to satisfy demand in recent years. Consequently, we sometimes had to purchase additional coffee from other sources fulfilling our criteria. As we value constant and reliable relations as an essential base of solidary trade, we have been looking for some time for additional dependable cooperations with self-organising small-scale farmers' collectives.
Alas, this search has been successful, and we are ordering coffee from two additional coops for the first time: Maya Vinic from Chiapas and Combrifol from Honduras.
New coops in Mexico and Honduras
The Maya Vinic cooperative was established in 1999 in Chiapas, Mexico and is exporting its certified organic coffee directly and without the involvement of intermediary traders. Most of their 300 members are indigenous Tzotzil and live in the Chenalhó, Chachihuitán and Pantehló communities. The coop's establishment dates back to the Acetal massacre of December 22, 1997. Paramilitary units killed forty-five members of the religious group Las Abejas (The Bees) because they had expressed solidarity with Zapatista autonomous communities.
Ongoing intimidation and death threats forced many indigenous Tzotzil people to flee their country. Among these displaced persons were farmers with substantial knowledge of coffee production, which provided an opportunity to survive in their new home regions.
The Combrifol coop – Cooperativa Mixta Regional Brisas de la Frontera Ltd. – was established in the 1990s in the southwest of Honduras. It extends to the regions of Nahuaterique, Marcala, Yarula and Santa Elena. They have been exporting Arabica highland coffee certified organic for more than ten years, defined by its fruity aroma and lively taste.
Most of Combrifo's coffee producers are indigenous Lenca population group members. They live in extreme poverty in the Honduras/El Salvador border region. As there is nearly no public infrastructure, the coop membership ensures access to resources supporting the farmers' subsistence and enhancing living conditions. Moreover, the coop provides a framework for women's self-organisation in their struggle against patriarchal violence and for women's rights.
What we are paying to the coops
As of this year, we are paying 135 MXN/kg (2022: 135 MXN + 10 MXN Corona premium per kg) for Zapatista coffee and coffee from Honduras 3,00 USD/lb (2022: 3,15 USD/lb). Therefore, prices for small-scale farmers' coops are only marginally lower than last year despite the added premium to contractual prices due to the Corona situation in 2022.
At the same time, we are maintaining high coffee quality, substantially exceeding the world market standard. World market coffee prices have been deteriorating compared to the previous year. While we have been negotiating the contracts with the cooperatives in November and December 2022, stock market coffee prices worldwide plummeted: from 2,60 USD/lb in April 2022, at the end of the year, prices had fallen to 1,50 USD/lb only. This illuminates the importance of contracts based on solidarity and decoupled from stock market rates.
The fluctuation of world market prices is threatening coops of small-scale farmers from both directions. When prices are soaring, small-scale farmers' produce is purchased by mobile traders before it arrives at the coops. Frequently this is organised by big coffee companies. To some extent, money from political corruption and criminal activities is laundered via the coffee trade. On the other hand, low world market prices for their products do not provide the farmers and coops with sufficient means for their existence.
What's the outlook?
As we had to raise prices in 2022 due to rising costs, we want to avoid further price increases. We would prefer to decrease prices (a bit).
Any eventual price changes can only be administered after the completion of imports because a decisive factor in acquisition prices is the currency exchange rate applicable to outstanding payments after the delivery of the coffee.
We want to provide solidarily traded coffee affordable for as many people as possible. Furthermore, we want to contribute to social struggles and resistant movements in Europe, Latin America and worldwide.
Café Libertad Kollektiv, 2. Mai 2023