This Fairtrade Fortnight (29 Feb – 13 March) Sodexo UK and Ireland is playing host to Franceska Salazar Hilacondo, a Peruvian coffee farmer, who is visiting Sodexo client sites to talk about the importance of Fairtrade to support the livelihoods of coffee farmers in Peru.
Sodexo’s retail category manager for hot beverages, Kim Reeves, first met Franceska this summer when she travelled to two Fairtrade coffee co-operatives – La Florida in La Merced and Bosque del Inca in Pitchanaki – with Sodexo’s coffee supplier UCC and representatives from the Fairtrade Foundation. The trip was arranged to trace the journey of the beans used in Sodexo’s Aspretto coffee brand back to the farmers who produce them and to understand some of the main issues they face.
Franceska is the eldest daughter of a farming family, who are part of the La Florida co-operative. In addition to working on the family farm, the 26-year-old studies international business administration at university. She has been researching the benefits of Fairtrade on smallholder farmers and is looking at development projects to help farmers in her region improve agricultural practices and increase production volumes.
Franceska will be visiting a number of Sodexo’s university and corporate services sites. She will give short talks about her life and family’s livelihood, with the aim of sharing insight about the importance of Fairtrade in supporting farmers and farming communities achieve a better quality of life.
Fairtrade Fortnight is an annual awareness campaign run by the Fairtrade Foundation. This year’s campaign – ‘Sit down for breakfast, stand up for farmers!’ – aims to raise awareness of the stark fact that farmers around the world, who grow much of the food western consumers take for granted, can’t always feed their own families.
During her trip last summer Kim Reeves heard first-hand about some of the issues coffee farmers in Peru are facing, such as poverty, lack of infrastructure and lack of technical knowledge and support. A huge issue is La Roya, or leaf rust, which affects 80% of farms in Peru and means farms can lose a significant proportion of their crop. Fairtrade supports coffee farming co-operatives with technical knowledge so they can learn how to address issues such as La Roya and improve productivity and sustainability.
Sodexo will continue to support La Florida and Bosque del Inca with a contribution of 13p for every kilo of Aspretto and other coffee that Sodexo sells, to fund on the ground development projects for farming families. On an annual basis, this equates to an overall contribution of about £8,000. The development funds can be used by farmers to assist with education, technical and agronomy projects or to fund projects to help farmers diversify income streams beyond coffee. Fairtrade will oversee the loans and will audit their impact.
Kim Reeves comments; “The objectives for the trip were to see for ourselves the tangible differences that buying coffee with Fairtrade and other certifications makes, especially to the coffee farmers and their families at the beginning of the Aspretto supply chain. We are delighted to be able to host Franceska; for her to able to speak directly to our customers, employees and clients during Fairtrade Fortnight is incredibly valuable.
“Having made the personal connections in Peru I am delighted that Sodexo will continue to support the coffee farming communities we met, through the continued positive impact of the Fairtrade premium and also through the addition development projects we will fund.”
LJ Loftus, account manager, brand and out of home, Fairtrade Foundation said; “Smallholder coffee farmers are extremely vulnerable to food shortages, particularly between harvests, where many go hungry and miss meals for three to four months each year. In Peru the communities we visited have also lost crops to a devastating plant disease, La Roya, making it even harder to cover the costs of production, which is why the safety net of Fairtrade’s minimum price is so essential. Fairtrade’s support in ensuring that farmers get stable prices and premiums that they can invest in agricultural training or other crops to sustain them through these times can really make all the difference.
“It’s inspiring to see Sodexo’s efforts to bring the origins of coffee alive by organising the first farmer visit led by a catering company this Fairtrade Fortnight. It is fantastic when companies develop close relationships with the producers in their supply chains and I hope other caterers will follow their lead.”