“The market growth in smaller tea importers and specialist coffee roasters is opening up opportunities in the UK for new businesses as well as improving sustainability and livelihoods of tea and coffee producers”
The company achieves growth because of its approach to sustainable development rather than despite it and has developed a business model accordingly. The company trades coffee under the Union Direct Trade model, which helps coffee producers move away from dependence on mass-market production, where they are vulnerable to world market fluctuations, towards speciality coffee production that has its own unique value, says Jeremy Torz, the company’s co-founder. “Through Union Direct Trade we were the first UK company to link sustainable development with exceptional quality coffee. The heart of Union Direct Trade is the close and long-lasting relationships we build with farmers in coffee growing communities around the world,” he adds. The model enables growers to be paid a minimum price above the International Fairtrade price and offers further incentives to increase production of high quality coffee and improve producers’ livelihoods. It was this
pioneering trading model that clinched Union’s Queen’s Award in 2017. “Union Direct Trade guarantees payment of at least 25% above the Fairtrade minimum price as well as a trusted route to a speciality market. Union works alongside coffee growing communities to increase quality and quantity of yield and improve working conditions. This creates a virtuous circle that helps farmers to plan for the future and gives Union access to exceptional quality coffee.” Winning a Queen’s Award has been a milestone for the company, which has continued to go from strength to strength. “Sustainability has always been the heart of our business, and it was fantastic to have this recognised in 2017 by winning the Queen’s Award. “We’re still a craft business at heart, but we’re also one of the UK’s leading roasters and it’s great to have this award as proof that we don’t just talk the talk we also walk the walk.” The market growth in smaller tea importers and specialist coffee roasters is opening up opportunities in the UK for new businesses as well as improving the sustainability and livelihoods of tea and coffee producers in developing countries. Global sales of coffee, tea and other hot drinks is estimated to rise at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 6.4 per cent between 2017 and 2021, reaching a total value of over USD 261bn annually, according to data reported by BMI. Growth in developed markets will expand at 4.2 per cent CAGR, and this will be led by product innovation, growing health- consciousness and convenience trends, the report states. So it looks like tea and coffee are here to stay and this obsession has cemented the UK as a significant player in the world market. As a result, we are due to host the global Tea and Coffee World Cup for the first time this year. This international trade show will be held in Birmingham in September and is a huge draw for all involved in the industry – big or small. But if a trade show is a step too far for your tastes, surely it must be tea break time by now. So what’s it to be: a refreshing cuppa or a fancy latte? Whichever you choose, keep sustainability in mind when popping the kettle on. l
Tree planting with school children in Kenya.
Coffee production As its name implies, the ethos behind Union Hand Roasted Coffee, another Queen’s Awards winner in the Sustainable Development category, is to roast small batches of beans and produce unique flavours and cups of coffee with a difference. In 20 years, the company has established a reputation for sustainability by sourcing quality coffee in ways that significantly improve the livelihoods of the coffee bean producers.
Iliana Martinez, general manager of the Esquipulas Coffee Co-operative in Guatemala, with Jeremy Torz, co-founder of Union Coffee.
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