Co-op to co-op trade trip brings coffee buyers to Guatemala

FECCEG youth coffee cupping guatemala 500FECCEG youth coffee cupping guatemala 500[Youth co-op leaders from FECCEG cooperative federation prepare coffee for a cupping, or quality tasting for U.S. trade delegates.]Traceability is the new buzzword in the coffee industry. To ensure fair trade standards and important production needs such as organic, rainforest alliance or others, trips to where coffee producers live and work are essential for the specialty coffee business.

Bringing six buyers, roasters and co-op retailers to Guatemala earlier this month, NCBA CLUSA also wanted to encourage relationships between buyers and producers for another reason: co-op to co-op trade.

“As cooperatives, it’s important that we support one another and build long-term economic relationships. Only this way we can truly build a sustainable, cooperative economy,” said Thaleon Tremain, CEO of Pachamama Coffee Cooperative, who went on the trip.

Pachamama Coffee is owned by co-op farmers around the world, including in Guatemala. One of the founding member organizations for Pachamama is Manos Campesinos, which the group visited on their trip, strengthening their relationships and introducing new potential buyers to the co-op.

In total, six U.S. importers, retailers and roasters met with eight Guatemalan co-ops over the weeklong trip in early November. One federation of co-ops, FECCEG, markets fully retail-ready coffee in the U.S. under the brand Kishé, but connecting with buyers takes time and money.

“For Kishé it is more important to connect with American buyers because the brand is available in the United States and it has been difficult to access the market without a big budget for publicity. To have the chance to present the product in person to several buyers is an important opportunity for us,” said Nidia Gómez, who handles purchasing at FECCEG.

Having visitors to the facilities in person paid off. Nidia mentioned that InterAmerican, a large American importer, did not buy coffee from them last year, but after this visit they closed over $500,000 dollars in sales.

“We may visit organizations that we did not know and after having an introduction, and learning about them during a visit is always a plus,” said Erika Tran-Hernández who heads up InterAmerican’s sustainable green coffee sourcing. She also participated in the first Co-op trade trip to El Salvador last year.

“These exchanges promote transparency, and the flow of information about the farmers, and the production conditions and origin of the products we buy,” said Cervantes Coffee Roasters owner Marialy Justiniano, who called these trips fundamental for her business model of connecting customers to farmers.

Overall, the trip aimed to support private sector trade links and investment partnerships to build sustainable relationships between U.S. coffee buyers and Guatemalan cooperatives. Funded by NCBA CLUSA’s USAID Cooperative Development Program, these exchanges are another way to strengthen the sector using public-private partnerships. This is one way we promote economic opportunities throughout our programs for both our U.S. membership and international program clients.

“Every time we visit with our members at origin, we strengthen those relationships and build closer ties. These cooperative connections will benefit both farmers and consumers for many years to come. It's a great investment,” Tremain said.


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