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COMMUNICATING SUSTAINABILITY: GMP AND TECHNOLOGY

June 21, 2012 in Uncategorized

Carlos Henrique Jorge Brando and Paulo Henrique Leme

The way sustainability is presented to consumers often leads to associations with charity, poverty, family farming and deforestation. Although some of  these associations are not fully wrong, the main point missed is that at the core of sustainability are good  management practices (GMP) which endow growers of all sizes with the ability to produce more efficiently and to increase their income and profit that in turn ensure the ability to be socially responsible and to protect the environment. Sustainability – the ability to produce now without compromising the ability to produce in the future – starts with good management practices that, yes, combat poverty and pave the way for forest preservation but are not the sole realm of small family farmers and are very far away from charity.

Using images of poverty, child labor, and deforestation to try to convince consumers to favor sustainable agriculture and to pay for sustainable products such as coffee and cocoa may backfire altogether because, first,  it encloses the risk of framing the growers of these products as mostly unsustainable and therefore turning consumers away from  them  and, second, it may create a relationship of charity  and dependence – “I only buy to help” – that perpetuates poverty and unsustainable practices. Reality is that these products are mostly grown by farmers who naturally  and intrinsically share  sustainability values but sometimes lack either  the knowledge or the means to grow them in a sustainable way. What sustainability codes and platforms propose is to create   awareness, to disseminate knowledge and to supply the means “to raise the bar” and to promote permanent improvement to ensure future production in a more challenging world with more people and fewer natural resources available per capita. Practices that were acceptable in the past are no longer so now because of better scientific knowledge of how they may affect our future. Of course sustainability codes condemn child labor, deforestation and other bad practices but this  is not to say that these practices are the norm. Much to the contrary they are the exception that should indeed be condemned.

The right, sound way to communicate sustainability is therefore positive and not negative, to present good management practices instead of exposing the exception of bad practices that may have stronger impact but also pose higher risks. The emphasis on good management practices goes beyond good agricultural practices because it includes social and environmental practices that transcend agriculture, e.g., preservation of the natural flora and paying fair wages. It is by communicating good management practices in the economic, social and environmental fields that sustainability must engage consumers concerned with the future of mankind. Sustainable management should be at the forefront of communication about sustainability and that inevitably includes technology. It is not by protecting, promoting and presenting old-fashioned inefficient production and management practices and systems that agricultures will play its role in a world that requires more production with the use of fewer resources.

Technology is often wrongly associated with large-scale farming. It is true that it is harder to develop technology for small growers but this is no to say that small farming should be condemned to use old-fashioned techniques. A farmer can be small and still use cutting edge technology because there is less and less room for labor intensive production. That is why contrary to what we see today technology should be an active part of communicating sustainability in opposition to a romantic view of farming as an old-fashioned labor intensive activity. If sustainability is to be positioned as and associated with efficiency and not charity, good management practices and modern technology must be at the core of the message to consumer. The challenge for marketing is to sell things the way they are or should be and not the way it is easier for consumers to be impressed… and deceived!

Source: Coffidential by P&A

http://www.peamarketing.com.br/coffidential/coffidential-059.pdf

 

Coffee and Health – O café e a longevidade – Dr. Drauzio Varella

June 5, 2012 in Uncategorized

NOTE: (article in Portuguese, click on “translate” and choose your language)

O café e a longevidade

Folha Ilustrada

O efeito protetor foi diretamente proporcional ao número de xícaras ingeridas diariamente

Drauzio Varella

Antes do primeiro café da manhã, sou um arremedo de mim mesmo. 

Assim que acordo, sou capaz de executar tarefas mecânicas e de correr duas horas seguidas, mas qualquer esforço intelectual antes da xícara de café com leite é um fardo insuportável. Meu cérebro permanece em modo contemplativo até a cafeína cair na circulação.

No meio da manhã, já em plena atividade, sinto uma necessidade louca de repetir a dose; pouco mais tarde, a vontade retorna, irresistível. Se não soubesse que a cafeína tem vida longa no organismo, a ponto de o cafezinho das cinco da tarde interferir no sono da noite, seria daqueles que só vão para a cama depois de tomar o último.

Por culpa desse efeito estimulante, tomar café não faz parte do assim chamado estilo de vida saudável. Como a cafeína está ligada a aumentos do LDL (o “mau” colesterol) e a elevações transitórias da pressão arterial, sempre houve suspeita de que pudesse aumentar a incidência de doenças cardiovasculares, como os infartos e os derrames cerebrais.

Os resultados dos estudos já realizados, no entanto, foram heterogêneos e inconsistentes com essa hipótese. Pelo contrário, alguns mostraram existir relação inversa entre o consumo de café e o aparecimento de doenças inflamatórias, diabetes, derrames, infartos e ferimentos acidentais. Mas, até aqui, nenhum inquérito populacional havia conseguido relacionar os níveis de consumo diário com a mortalidade.

Para responder se quem toma café vive menos tempo, um grupo americano dos Institutos Nacionais de Saúde (NIH) acaba de publicar o estudo mais completo sobre o tema.

Por meio de um questionário, foram incluídos na pesquisa 229.119 homens e 173.141 mulheres saudáveis de ambos os sexos, com idades entre 50 e 71 anos. A avaliação inicial compreendia 124 itens relacionados com o estilo de vida e a dieta: consumo de vegetais, frutas, gordura saturada, carne vermelha ou branca e o total de calorias ingeridas.

Dos participantes, 79% tomavam café de coador, 19% café instantâneo, 1% expresso e 1% não especificou o modo de preparo. De acordo com o número de xícaras tomadas diariamente, o grupo foi dividido em dez categorias.

Comparados com os que não tomavam café, entre os consumidores havia mais fumantes, mais gente que tomava três drinques ou mais por dia e ingeria quantidades maiores de carne vermelha. Também tendiam a apresentar nível educacional mais baixo, a praticar menos exercícios extenuantes e a comer menos frutas, vegetais e carne branca. Por outro lado, havia menos casos de diabetes entre eles.

Durante os 14 anos de seguimento dessa população, foram a óbito 33.731 homens e 18.784 mulheres.

De início, os dados pareciam mostrar que o consumo de café estaria associado ao aumento da mortalidade. Depois de eliminar fatores como cigarro (especialmente), sedentarismo e obesidade, entretanto, ficou claro haver uma relação inversa: quanto mais café, menor o número de mortes.

Além de diminuir a mortalidade geral, tomar café reduziu a mortalidade por diabetes, doenças cardiorrespiratórias, derrames cerebrais, ferimentos, acidentes e infecções. As mortes por câncer não foram afetadas.

O efeito protetor foi diretamente proporcional ao número de xícaras ingeridas diariamente. A diminuição mais acentuada da mortalidade aconteceu no grupo de seis xícaras ou mais por dia: redução de 10% nos homens e de 15% nas mulheres. Essa associação foi independente da preferência por café descafeinado ou não, sugerindo que a proteção não ocorre por conta da cafeína.

Caro leitor, você deve estar cansado de ler artigos pseudocientíficos que apregoam as vantagens de determinados alimentos. A internet está abarrotada de sites e de mensagens que se propagam feito vírus, exaltando os benefícios do alho, do limão, da alface, do tomate orgânico, da berinjela, e por aí vai.

O estudo que acabei de apresentar foi aceito para publicação na “The New England Journal of Medicine”, a revista médica de maior circulação, porque é o mais completo já realizado sobre o assunto.

Na manhã em que recebi a revista, fazia frio. Quando terminei a leitura do artigo, tomei o segundo café. Uma hora mais tarde, enquanto escrevia a coluna, tomei o terceiro. No final, o quarto, só para comemorar.

Source: ABIC

TRANSFERRING INCOME TO (SMALL) GROWERS: EFFICIENCY OF COFFEE CHAIN, YIELDS AND FARM SIZE* – as presented at SCAA Symposium

June 4, 2012 in Uncategorized

Is it a fortunate coincidence or an actual causal relationship that several coffee growing countries that expanded production recently and are well positioned to continue doing so have managed to transfer a greater part of the FOB export price to their growers? In fact, Arabica growers in Honduras, Peru and Ethiopia and Robusta growers in Indonesia have all benefited from government, NGO, marketing and/or trading actions that have caused more income to be transferred to growers. There seems to be a strong causal relationship here that must be further investigated and benchmarked in order to make coffee growers and the coffee business more sustainable.

If today Brazil and Vietnam transfer between 85 and 90% of the FOB price of coffee to growers, if the average figure for the coffee producing world is around 65% and if there are countries that transfer only 25 to 30%, there is a great opportunity to improve the living conditions of coffee growers in many countries. The barriers to transferring more income to growers are many: regulation, taxation, inefficiencies in the chain, lack of growers` knowledge about coffee prices and qualities, and poor infrastructure, to mention only the ones found more frequently. To investigate these barriers and to address them should also be the scope of sustainability initiatives that have so far concentrated mostly on what happens before farm gate and have often ignored what happens beyond farm gate which is where the opportunities above lie.

It is an oversimplification to believe that higher coffee prices will alone and by themselves cause coffee production to increase uniformly in all countries and benefit growers in the same way in all of them. That a small group of Arabica producing countries – the ones mentioned above – concentrated the bulk of the recent production increases in spite of having lower price differentials for their coffees, as shown in the table on the right-hand side, supports this. The information in this table, that also shows Arabica coffee yields as compared to the ones prevailing in Brazil – similar (“=”), smaller (“-“), much smaller (“–“) and smallest (“—“) – can be used together with average coffee yields and average cost of production estimates in a few countries to arrive at other interesting conclusions.

 PRICES AND YIELDS

Costa Rica has the best of the two worlds – high price differentials and high average yields – and its growers have the highest gross profits per hectare. In spite of its much lower price differentials, Brazilian growers earn more per hectare than their Colombian and Kenyan colleagues whose coffees command a much higher price. As discussed at the beginning of this article, the difference between “gross” profit – FOB export price minus costs of production – and “net” profit – price that reaches the grower minus costs of production – is not uniform across countries.  For example, because Kenyan growers have a smaller participation at FOB export prices than growers in the other three countries in this comparison, their income and profit become even smaller.

Last but not least, the average farm size greatly affects the welfare and economic sustainability of coffee growers. The average coffee farm in Brazil is 5 to 10 times larger than in Colombia, Kenya and Indonesia. As a result the average Brazilian grower earns many times more than in the other three countries and is much better equipped to deal with rising costs of living and expectations that are today a reality and concern for small Vietnamese growers too. The economic sustainability of small growers in most producing countries will have to involve doing things together to share costs, achieve economies of scale, etc. using existing models (e.g.: cooperatives and associations) and other innovative ways still to be developed. This is yet another challenge for the sustainability of the coffee business.

*Based on ideas developed by the author at his presentation at SCAA’s 2012 Symposium. You may request the PowerPoint of the presentation from peamarketing@peamarketing.com.br.

Source: Coffidential P&A

What is sustainability?

June 2, 2012 in Uncategorized

Dear CoffeeClub friends,

I was wondering, what is a sustainable coffee production in your opinion?

Thanks!

Paulo Henrique Leme