Adding value to coffee and cacao in Latin America

In her new report, 'Adding value to coffee and cacao in Latin America,' Canning House Research Fellow Layla Zaglul Ruiz discusses coffee and fine chocolate's place amongst high-end food movements, similar to craft beer and specialty cheese.



Third-wave coffee and fine chocolate are part of high-end food movements, covering products ranging from beer to cheese, that are moving away from mass production and homogenous goods towards singularity and decommodification. These affluent markets reward high-quality and artisan skills and have an appreciation for a single origin, direct trade, and provenance.

High-end coffee and chocolate are morally infused products through which consumers exercise resistance by boycotting certain brands and choosing to buy others. Both products have been at the epicentre of Fair Trade campaigns. In fact, coffee was the first agricultural product to bring ethical issues, such as premium prices and sustainability, into its marketing campaigns, emulated later in chocolate.

These modes of production have been promoted by development agencies and governments as a route to improving the lives of those at the tail-end of each supply chain. The main reason for  encouraging these practices is the promise of better prices for these products, as they are more highly valued than conventional goods in the international market and rely on fewer intermediaries. But how much of this gets to the producers? What are the implications of these models for small-scale farmers? How are cacao and coffee farmers adding value to their products? This report analyses these forms of production to answer these questions in the context of Costa Rica and Peru, and it puts forward policy recommendations that could improve the current situation.

Download the full report to read on... click here

Business implications

The report’s central policy implication suggests that fine cacao and specialty coffee should be manufactured at origin and/or have more control of the value chain. The route to these goods being produced locally is not easy. However, the report recommends realist solutions to these problems. Some of these challenges could be solved with business partnerships and entrepreneur ventures. Below is a list of challenges that fine cacao and specialty coffee face when manufactured at origin (or exported as beans), accompanied by suggestions for turning these challenges into business opportunities.

Discover the business implications of this research... click here


Layla discusses her new report, "Adding value to coffee and cacao in Latin America," with former President of Costa Rica Carlos Alvarado Quesada, ECLAC Washington Office Director Andrés Valenciano Yamuni, and the International Coffee Organization's Executive Director Vanúsia Nogueria, in this webinar.

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