Here at DR Wakefield, our core principles that guide everything we do directly relate to the protection of the planet and its people, in line with producing the right, high-quality coffee at the right price.
In an industry like the coffee trade – in which the supply chain is not only drawn out over time, but also across thousands of miles of land and oceans, from one side of the earth to the other – it is arguably more important than ever to ensure we are doing all we can to safeguard ethical, equitable and sustainable business, for all those involved in the process.
This mindset is common among responsible traders working in agricultural spheres, for which produce may be grown in far-removed locations from where it is finally sold to the end user. This much is evident in the cocoa industry.
Writing for the Guardian, managing director of Divine Chocolate Ltd Sophi Tranchell explains how social enterprise and the consumer demand for companies to invest in fairtrade practices is on the rise, with the number of new cocoa products boasting ethical labelling having risen by 120 per cent in the last year, according to recent consumer research by Mintel.
"In a world driven by supply and demand, people are expendable. If there is oversupply, "let them do something else", to paraphrase Marie Antoinette. This is not a sustainable proposition," she writes – and we couldn't agree more.
If we do not take care to invest in and care for hard-working farmers at the source of the supply chain – on whom, we needn't add, both our industry and many others like it entirely rely – then the coffee trade has no future. Such a business model is completely unsustainable, aside from being ethically unsound.
It is all very well knowing that a product will remain popular and continue to grace supermarket shelves for years to come, but unless time, money and effort is invested in ensuring that any trade involved – be it in coffee or chocolate, corn, soy or any other agricultural commodity – is entirely future-proof, there is very little point.
"We are dependent on smallholder farmers around the world for 70 per cent of our food. They are the best stewards of the land, which risks being stripped bare by agribusiness and monoculture," the expert writes.
However, while we as businesspeople may be well aware of this fact, it would appear that consumers are paying more attention to this too, taking these considerations into account when making their purchasing decisions.
In the article, Ms Tranchell goes on to explain how in the UK last year, Fairtrade chocolate sales came in at over £820 million, which represented a 52 per cent increase on the year before. It is clear to see that more money is now being spent on ethically-sound produce.
Fairtrade is just one of many ethical labelling accreditation schemes that helps both businesses and consumers to know something about the background and context within which a certain product is purchased. Give us a ring today to find out more about our ethical operations and how these enable us to sell high-quality coffee that doesn't come with a conscience.