Publication Date

2003

Abstract

We are in the midst of the worst global coffee crisis in history. The price of coffee, the second largest legally traded commodity in the world, currently hovers below the cost of production. With no end to the crisis in sight, coffee farmers are looking for alternative forms of commercialization to compete in a over saturated market. In this capstone paper, the author sought to determine to what extent the pursuit or use of fair trade/organic certifications is influencing commercialization practices of small-scale cooperatives in the Highlands of Chiapas. Through an extensive literature review, on site interviews and participation in an on-line conference for directors of coffee cooperatives, the author examined past and present commercialization practices in the state. A central conclusion drawn from the study is that most cooperatives are looking to improve coffee quality while pushing toward fair trade/organic certification. At the same time, many realize that only 1/6th of all fair trade certified coffees were sold at fair trade prices last year and certification in itself will not bring relief. Results of this capstone paper can be used by cooperatives and academics to better understand the global coffee market and on-going trends in commericialization practices in Chiapas, Mexico.

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