Coffee Tech Startup Commits To Paying Colombian Farmers 20% More To Achieve A Living Income

By Shayna Harris, Forbes Contributor
June 22, 2021

Accord­ing to a report released today, the “Ver­i­fied Liv­ing Income (VLI) is an ini­tia­tive focused on devel­op­ing a trans­par­ent and inclu­sive method of price dis­cov­ery.” Spear­head­ed by a coali­tion of non-prof­it and for-prof­it enti­ties, the approach and the sen­si­tiv­i­ty analy­sis (devel­oped by the non-prof­it Heifer Inter­na­tion­al) takes into account over one hun­dred vari­ables to deter­mine a liv­ing income for farmers.

Grayson Cald­well is the head of sus­tain­abil­i­ty at Bell­wether, is a dri­ving force behind the project. She saw a dis­con­nect between the industry’s sus­tain­abil­i­ty stan­dards, and the deep pover­ty in cof­fee grow­ing com­mu­ni­ties. She won­dered, “So how much do they [farm­ers] need to earn to live a dig­ni­fied life? And how can we at Bell­wether cre­ate a min­i­mum Green Cof­fee price based on those data points?” She learned about the VLI, and togeth­er with cof­fee importer Sus­tain­able Har­vest, they launched a pilot project. {…} What Cald­well found was that Bellwether’s con­tract prices were 20% under the liv­ing income thresh­old. They reviewed and val­i­dat­ed the infor­ma­tion with the coop­er­a­tive man­ag­er, and Bell­wether revised their con­tract to increase the price paid to the mem­bers of the coop­er­a­tive by 20%.

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