07 June 2001 | Robin Parker
Coffee-producing countries are being urged to produce fewer beans of higher quality to raise prices and counter a glut of coffee on commodity markets.
The International Coffee Organisation (ICO), an intergovernmental organisation of coffee exporting and importing countries, has launched a review encouraging coffee producers to eliminate impurities and defective beans in exported coffee.
"There's an excess of around 10 million bags worldwide," Pablo Dubois, ICO head of operations, told SM. "Our short-term priority is to increase demand and to promote quality as the key to increasing consumption."
A recent report by charity Oxfam said coffee production had increased at twice the rate of consumption in the past decade, to the detriment of farmers in developing countries.
To redress the balance and improve the supply chain, it called for the destruction of 15 million bags of low-grade coffee.
"Sustainability is clearly a sensitive issue in many producing countries," said Euan Paul, executive director of producers' group the British Coffee Association.