The United Kingdom officially joins the ICO

The United Kingdom is now an official member of the International Coffee Organisation (ICO). On 28 January 2021, the ICO held a virtual ceremony to celebrate its newest member and launch the Coffee Development Report 2020 (CDR2020), the second issue of the economic flagship publication.

The UK has completed the process of accession to the ICO and became an independent member on 1 January 2021. ICO members currently account for 97% of world coffee production and exports and over two-thirds of coffee imports.

Food Minister Victoria Prentis said, “Here in the UK, we drink approximately 95 million cups of coffee per day, and the coffee industry creates a multitude of jobs throughout the supply chain. I am pleased to mark the UK officially joining the ICO as an individual importing member. This exciting event means that we will be able to continue to work together with other members, to champion the global coffee sector and to ensure its sustainability.”

Welcoming the UK’s accession to the ICO, Paul Rooke, executive director of the British Coffee Association (BCA) said, “We are pleased that the Government has acted swiftly to confirm its membership of the ICO. The UK coffee industry is an £11bn turnover sector, employing over 150,000 people. Coffee matters to the UK and, as a country, it is right we seek to take a leading role in protecting and maintaining the production of our favourite beverage. The BCA looks forward to working with ICO and its members to enhance development efforts and open markets, and to ongoing collaboration with colleagues in Defra in supporting the UK coffee industry’s role.”

Noting that the United Kingdom is the 10th largest importer (by volume) of coffee globally, José Sette, the executive director of the ICO, said, “By joining the ICO the UK is investing in this valuable sector. The ICO offers its members the opportunity to cooperate on a global level and learn from each other’s experiences in the coffee sector. Membership in the ICO facilitates close contacts with the private sector, development partners and the wider coffee community. Public-private collaboration is vital if we are to ensure a sustainable and prosperous coffee industry. The United Kingdom is our host country, and we welcome them as a member with open arms.”

During the virtual ceremony, the ICO also released its Coffee Development Report 2020 (CDR2020), the second issue of the economic flagship publication. The report, titled, The Value of Coffee: Sustainability, Inclusiveness, and Resilience of the Coffee Global Value Chain, analyses the coffee sector through the lens of global value chains (GVCs). It provides insights into the coffee GVC based on sound empirical analysis.

A key recommendation of the report is that a smart mix of market-driven initiatives and regulatory options, constructive dialogue and joint action between public and private sector stakeholders along with accurate and timely information to facilitate cooperation are necessary to maximize the economic benefits for coffee farmers integrating the GVC. It also stresses the importance of ensuring social and environmental sustainability.

Key findings of the report include that the value of annual coffee exports has more than quadrupled from USD $8.4 billion in 1991 to $35.6 billion in 2018 with non-producing countries, including the UK, having played a significant role. The expansion of the coffee GVC is driven by the private sector, but governments need to provide an enabling environment. Higher-income regions such as Europe and North America accounted for more than 96% of roasted coffee exports and 53% of soluble coffee exports in 2018 indicating that processing activities primarily occur in higher-income regions that rely strongly on green coffee imports from the producing lower-income regions. Other themes highlighted in the report included upgrading opportunities for Arabica and Robusta coffee producers, the need for inclusiveness and the impact of private-sector-driven programmes on coffee growers’ ability to target high-income markets, the coffee GVCs contribution to the UN Sustainable Development Goals and on the resilience of the coffee GVC to stressors such as climate change and the current global pandemic.

The Coffee Development Report 2020 has been prepared by the ICO team with the support of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development through the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH. The report builds on and complements other ICO studies such as the Coffee Break Series that highlighted the impact of Covid-19 on the global coffee sector. The full Coffee Development Report 2020 is available in English. A hard copy can be purchased online here and is also available to download for free.

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