A recent article in the Christian Science Monitor highlights the difficulty that organic farmers are having in sustaining a market, and therefore are looking to go back to conventional coffee production.
A lot of the transition comes down to a supply and demand. Roasters, like ourselves at the Buena Vista Roastery, have been increasing their organic offering over the years. We have increased through the years as best we can, with the understanding that some coffee varieties are not available as a certified Organic. Yet the cost of coffees continues to increase, with our own average price per pound for green increasing this year by 30%.Â The commodity price of coffee continues to rise, so roasters seek to reduce costs. One primary way of doing so is to offer conventionals. The demand wanes, and therefore the supply of coffee in situ means that farmers must offload their product by devaluing it via the conventional market. The more the consumer (roaster and imbiber) are unwilling to pay a premium, the greater likelihood that the farmers will go back to conventional agricultural practices. Seems pretty straightforward.Rest assured, we continue to seek high quality specialty coffees, certified Organic.
From the article, here is an interesting statistic and quote from a Guatemalan farmer:
The expense of organic certifications, composts, and the losses incurred by pests and other factors mean growing organic costs about 15 percent more than growing conventional crops, Mr. Haggar says. More notably, by using chemical fertilizers a farmer can coax about 485 pounds of coffee out of one acre, versus 285 pounds per acre on an organic farm, according to CATIE…
…â€œI can sell [nonorganic coffee] to a coyote [middle man] for around the same price [as organic], a little less, and I can use whatever I want on the coffee plants â€“ fertilizers I can buy, pesticides,â€ says Jose Perez, who stopped growing organic coffee on his three-acre farm in Guatemala last year. â€œI can grow a lot more this way.â€