Fair Trade USA Joins Global Coffee Quality Research Initiative to Help Small Farmers Face Climate Change

Jul 27, 2011, 17:08 ET from Fair Trade USA

OAKLAND, Calif. and COLLEGE STATION, Texas, July 27, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Fair Trade USA, the leading third-party certifier of Fair Trade products in the United States, and the Global Coffee Quality Research Initiative (GCQRI), a collaborative research program of the specialty coffee industry, today announce a strategic partnership to provide industry-leading research to help all members of the Fair Trade coffee supply chain face the challenges of climate change.

Throughout its first five-year plan, Fair Trade USA will support the efforts of GCQRI to conduct international research, and to produce farmer, industry and consumer-facing information and analyses on the state and future of specialty coffee. The effort will not only create informed consumers, but also generate a new wave of knowledge and innovation to alleviate constraints facing those most vulnerable to climate change—small farmers around the world. The resulting technologies and training efforts will lead to sustainable increases in productivity and quality, securing both the livelihoods of farmers as well as global coffee supply chains.

"Our new partnership with GCQRI has tremendous potential to benefit Fair Trade stakeholders up and down the entire coffee supply chain," said Jennifer Gallegos, Director of Business Development for coffee at Fair Trade USA. "We understand that quality and yield improvements are a key focus for all of our partners within the system. By supporting this initiative we're encouraging sustainable development now and in the years to come."

"By teaming up with Fair Trade USA we are strengthening our ability to deliver research results directly to the producer that will increase their incomes and allow greater freedom of choice in the future," said Dr. Tim Schilling, the GCQRI Executive Director. "The potential to radically transform the industry to the benefit of the producer as well as the rest of value chain is tremendous. Working collaboratively and cooperatively with all supply chain stakeholders is the elixir to unlock this potential, and science is the main ingredient."

Using an international team of researchers and consultants, the GCQRI will carry out short, medium and long term research plans relating to both quantity (supply) and quality. Much of what this research aims to do is help farmers gain a better understanding of their own coffee quality as well as how to produce higher yields without compromising the integrity of the product. Along with initiatives in key areas such as coffee rust resistance and CBD tolerance, one particularly interesting project is to determine exactly what taste points within a coffee relate to quality and enjoyment in different global markets.

"One of our goals is to work with the coffee industry to accelerate taste differentiation in coffee to levels similar to the wine industry, where both producers and consumers can develop extremely sophisticated tasting palates," says Bianca Manago of GCQRI. "This is quite the task, because although 200 different aromas have been identified in wine, coffee boasts over 800 different aromatic compounds and taste points. By empowering farmers with the knowledge of precision tasting they are not only able to produce and detect a higher quality product, they can also negotiate a far higher price within specialty markets." "Most importantly, this is the kind of research that will drive consumer demand for highly desirable, complex taste profiles that people will be willing to pay higher prices for," added Schilling.

Fair Trade is a global movement to alleviate poverty in farming communities in the developing world in ways that are socially and environmentally sustainable. Fair Trade certification helps businesses and consumers make every purchase matter because the Fair Trade Certified label means that the high-quality products they purchase improve lives and protect the environment. Through strategic partnerships with organizations such as GCQRI, Fair Trade USA works to link industry and NGO partners around the world to strengthen farming communities through a variety of capacity building programs and resources.

Fair Trade USA (previously TransFair USA), a nonprofit organization, is the leading third-party certifier of Fair Trade products in the United States. Fair Trade USA audits and certifies transactions between U.S. companies and their international suppliers to guarantee that the farmers and workers producing Fair Trade Certified goods were paid fair prices and wages, work in safe conditions, protect the environment, and receive community development funds to empower and uplift their communities. Fair Trade USA educates consumers, brings new manufacturers and retailers into the Fair Trade system, and provides farming communities with tools, training and resources to thrive as international businesspeople. Visit www.FairTradeUSA.org for more information.

The Global Coffee Quality Research Initiative (GCQRI) is a nonprofit collaborative research program of the specialty coffee industry and the Norman Borlaug Institute of International Agriculture of Texas AgriLife. The overall Goal of GCQRI is to grow, improve and protect supplies of quality coffee to fuel the growth of the dynamic coffee industry that directly affects the livelihoods of over 100 million people. GCQRI will serve as the impetus and mechanism in which the coordination between the coffee industry, origin country research organizations, and international research organizations will occur. Visit http://gcqri.org/ for more information.

CONTACT: Jenna Larson, +1-510-844-1668, jlarson@fairtradeusa.org