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What’s THAT in your coffee?

Media Release
Wednesday 18 September 2002

What’s THAT in your coffee?

“It is a great danger for us…
our children do not have clothes to go to school.
We don’t even have food to eat.
We appeal to the world for food, support and assistance.”

Hajib Mohamed Amin - Coffee farmer, Kafa province, Ethiopia

When you next buy a $3 cappuccino, the coffee farmer who grew the beans won’t even get three cents. 25 million coffee farmers across the world are facing economic ruin while the giant roasters make huge profits. Today, Oxfam Community Aid Abroad is launching a global campaign to tackle the coffee crisis and demand a fair price for farmers.

“The price of coffee has almost halved in the past three years to a 30-year low,” said Andrew Hewett, Executive Director of Oxfam Community Aid Abroad. “Coffee farmers are in a really desperate situation – they are being forced to take children out of school, sell off their land and are struggling to feed their families”, he added.

Meanwhile the ‘big four’ roaster companies – Sara Lee, Procter & Gamble, Nestlé and Kraft – who purchase half the world’s coffee crop, have coffee brands worth $2 billion or more in annual sales. “This is an acid test of whether globalisation can be made to work for the poor. The roasters know there is terrible human suffering at the heart of their business, yet they do virtually nothing to help”, said Hewett.

Kraft – who sells Maxwell House and Jacobs coffee in Australia – revealed its lack of concern in an interview with Oxfam earlier this year; “The market will find its own solution because countries and producers will be driven out of the market… our role as Kraft is to increase consumption.”

In a report published today, ‘ Mugged – Poverty in your coffee cup’, Oxfam warns of economic breakdown and worsening misery for the world’s 25 million growers. Oxfam is calling for a Coffee Rescue Plan to make the coffee market work for the poor as well as the rich.

Coffee farmers are getting, on average, $1 a kilogram while consumers in rich countries are paying roughly $15 a kilogram – a markup of 1500%. “The corporate giants need a sharp reminder that the people who enjoy drinking their coffee also care about the livelihoods of the people who grow the crop”, said Hewett.

“Coffee drinkers can help by putting pressure on these companies and governments to respond to the crisis”, said Hewett. “Buying Fair Trade coffee also helps some farmers to receive a fair price.”

See also…
Bitter coffee in Kenya... one family’s story…
About the Coffee Crisis… - Fact Sheet

To arrange an interview with Andrew Hewett, Oxfam Community Aid Abroad’s Executive Director, for a briefing on the coffee crisis or for a copy of Oxfam’s Coffee report, contact Carly Hammond on (61) (3) 9289 9413 or (61) 409 181 454 or visit

Oxfam Community Aid Abroad can provide photographs and broadcast quality vision of interviews with farmers, country case studies and other background information.

The full report will be available online from Wednesday 18 September at

© Scoop Media

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