Economics of Coffee

Coffee is an important commodity and a popular beverage. Over 2.25 billion cups of coffee are consumed in the world every day. Over 90% of coffee production takes place in developing countries, while consumption happens mainly in the industrialized economies. Worldwide, 25 million small producers rely on coffee for a living. For instance, in Brazil alone, where almost a third of all the world’s coffee is produced, over 5 million people are employed in the cultivation and harvesting of over 3 billion coffee plants; it is a much more labour-intensive culture than alternative cultures of the same regions as sugar cane or cattle, as it is not subject to automation and requires constant attention.

Coffee is also bought and sold as a commodity on the New York Board of Trade. This is where coffee futures contracts are traded, which are a financial asset involving a standardized contract for the future sale or purchase of a unit of coffee at an agreed price. The world’s largest transfer point for coffee is the port of Hamburg, Germany.

The International Coffee Organization (ICO) is the main intergovernmental organization for coffee, bringing together producing and consuming countries to tackle the challenges facing the world coffee sector through international cooperation. It makes a practical contribution to the world coffee economy and to improving standards of living in developing countries.

On the ICO web site you will find a wealth of information about the economics of coffee as well as statistics, daily and historical price of coffee futures. You may click on the map to view more information about ICO.

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