Increased pricing. Decreased availability. Contract defaults. Closer relationships with producers…
The current market situation is having huge impacts all across the coffee industry, but perhaps nowhere more so than at the very source. While relationships with producers are ever-evolving, even in a stable economy, companies are currently finding themselves in a new spot on the map when it comes to sourcing strategies.
“It’s a whole new world,” says Peter Giuliano, director of coffee and co-owner of Counter Culture Coffee. “The current ‘C’ market is only a symptom—it underlies basic changes in the supply and demand of coffee at the global level. While this situation has emerged quickly, it didn’t surprise us, really. We have, in some way, been preparing for this eventuality for years.”
Companies like Counter Culture, which have worked to build long-term relationships with producers over the years, are finding that those close-knit ties are even more vital in a tough economy. “The kinds of relationships we have built with producers are valuable in times of both scarcity and oversupply—sort of like how a personal relationship is meaningful through thick and thin,” Giuliano says. “In that sense, the strategy of building and strengthening coffee relationships based on shared values, quality, sustainability, and prosperity hasn’t changed at all. What’s changed is the environment, and the challenges that we have to face in our partnerships with coffee producers.”