Day one was a context-setting day. We looked at how wine and other agriculture categories view, conduct, fund, and utilize research to promote their industries. One presenter categorized coffee as one of the “orphaned” tropical crops — those products grown in one place and consumed in another; therefore lacking any real commitment to development. We learned even mushrooms and watermelons receive an influx of $2-4million per year. In an environment where market demand is up, without an investment in research and development, the ability to respond rapidly to production pressures is seriously hindered, if not impossible.
The rationale for investment in research was clear:
Knowledge building to guide purchasing and processing
Sustainability of a supply chain
The potential for new varieties and new products
Improvements in distribution
Positive demonstration of corporate citizenship
The model of success for these types of programs was also very clear. In addition to the standard requirements of any proposal (e.g., clear objectives, defined measures, etc.), research must be highly connected to the industry.
As the day went on, a shared understanding of the problem began to emerge. Reverting back to the situation assessment as stated by GQCRI: the supply of quality coffee is challenged and there is a paucity of research to identify appropriate and innovative ways of increasing. Most vividly, examples of investments by multi-national companies were shared. The implication being that a few are already doing research and development privately. GCQRI can shift that dynamic, applying research for the benefit of the whole versus leaving it to the advantage of a few.