2011 Retreat Round Table Discussion | Direct Trade

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Postby lilyk » Mon Sep 19, 2011 12:32 pm

The Round Table discussion on Direct Trade raised the issue of perception with regards to roasting companies and the consumer’s sense of their commitment to the farmer. Issues included risk around purchasing directly, financing and quality along the supply chain. Opportunities were identified such as mass-market access between farmer and roaster. Many questions arose in this discussion, such as: Is an official definition around the term “direct trade” necessary? Should it become a certification? How would this work with Cooperatives? How do the variations in usage of this term affect how this practice is perceived by the customer or within the industry? With the term “relationship coffee”, do we mean it purely in business terms or are we suggesting something with greater obligation, and if so, how do we ensure that we are fulfilling that obligation?

We'd love to hear your thoughts.
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Postby bstruwe » Thu Sep 22, 2011 9:37 am

In my mind the marketing implications of this type of sourcing needs to always be a part of the total picture. In a scenario where the product positioning doesn't include some aspect of telling the consumer "this is 'relationship' coffee" then it has no reason for being unless there are other company benefits such as reduced costs or ensuring forward supply, etc. Inversely, if brands are purported as 'direct trade' when in fact they may in spirit be not what are the ramifications if any? Doesn't this simply fall under the same marketing guise as 'fresh' or 'new and improved'?
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Postby chris7wade » Thu Sep 29, 2011 11:35 am

Buying direct trade is possible from a co-op and it takes a little more effort. The co-op has to vote to allow the farmers involved to sell at possible different rates for higher quality levels. Setting up a program like that will take some extra time and planning.
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