In 1992, The Co-operative became the first major retailer to sell a fairly traded product – Cafédirect – two years before the FAIRTRADE Mark was introduced.
In 2003, when prices were at a 30 year low (meaning farmers were struggling to afford to grow coffee) we switched our entire own-brand coffee range to Fairtrade.
On the 10th anniversary of this pioneering and still unique conversion, we've also gone beyond Fairtrade to support thousands of smallholder coffee producers in Colombia and Guatemala.
Aguadas co-operative - Colombia
In Colombia, we’re supporting 1,000 smallholder coffee producers of Aguadas co-operative to improve their coffee storage and drying facilities, thus improving the quality and productivity of coffee.
The project is also helping farmers to improve environmental practices, including composting waste, to help increase yields by providing nutrients to coffee plants.
Oromia Coffee Farmers Co-operative Union, Ethiopia
In Ethiopia, we’re investing in training to support farmers in the 240 primary co-operatives that make up Oromia Coffee Farmers Co-operative Union.
The training will target 1,200 engaged farmers, from across the 240 co-operatives, with techniques to improve product quality and yields in a sustainable way. These farmers will then disseminate their skills to fellow farmers in their
Overall, this is expected to increase co-operatives’ market share and boost members’ income from their farm, benefiting around 20,000 people in total.
FEDECOCAGUA Co-operative Union, Guatemala
FEDECOCAGUA started to export coffee through Fairtrade in 1997, but today only two thirds of its member
co-operatives are Fairtrade certified.
We’re supporting twelve primary coffee co-operatives, that are members of FEDECOCAGUA, with capacity building and training, helping them to achieve Fairtrade certification, and improve quality and productivity of coffee, ultimately helping to return increased incomes to their members.
We’re also supporting three other informal groups of coffee producers to form into co-operatives, achieve Fairtrade certification and become member co-operatives of FEDECOCAGUA, helping them to own more of the value chain and have a stronger voice. In total, some 5,000 people are benefiting.