Fairtrade Australia New Zealand discusses its newfound partnership with 7-Eleven Australia and its ongoing commitment to supporting a fair and sustainable future for coffee producers.
There’s a new partnership in town, and it’s been hard to ignore. From giant billboards to TV adverts and radio promotions, Australians are likely to have noticed Fairtrade’s new partnership with 7-Eleven coffee, and it’s one that organisations are proud to be sharing far and wide.
The retail convenience chain 7-Eleven has partnered with Fairtrade ANZ to become one of the first mass-scale coffee retailers with certification in Australia.
7-Eleven CEO Angus McKay says the launch of 7-Eleven’s most sustainable coffee ever is part of the company’s broader commitment to the environment. As well as being Fairtrade certified, the coffee is now served in new paper-based cups with a plant lining, and lids made from sugarcane and bamboo pulp.
“The quality and convenience of our iconic 7-Eleven freshly ground coffee remains as important today as ever, but our customers are seeking more responsibly sourced and sustainable coffee, expecting us to lead the way,” says Angus.
Fairtrade ANZ CEO Dr Mike Briers says the initiative is a great example of two organisations working together effectively to achieve shared goals.
“It’s been an amazing start to our new partnership with 7-Eleven Australia, [which began on 4 October]. We’re delighted 7-Eleven is moving towards greater sustainability and that we can support them to achieve fair outcomes for coffee producers,” Mike says.
Across Australia, 7-Eleven sells more than 80 million cups of coffee each year. According to Fairtrade ANZ, the farmers in Brazil and India who produce those beans will benefit enormously, as they are now being bought on Fairtrade terms. This means that 7-Eleven will pay the Fairtrade Minimum Price for coffee regardless of the international market price fluctuations and that the coffee cooperative – or group of farmers – will also receive a Fairtrade Premium for each kilogram of coffee 7-Eleven buys.
The Premium money is paid into a communal fund and the farmers vote on how to spend it based on community needs. This could include medical centres, farming tools and sustainability measures like water tanks and solar power. At least a quarter of the Fairtrade Premium for coffee must be allocated to coffee quality improvements so that the product continues to improve and meet market demand.
“To us, Fairtrade is a wonderful partnership because it means not only do we know the farmer who produces the beans, but we know they’re getting a fair go and they’re getting paid the right amount for their coffee,” says Angus.
“We want to ensure through Fairtrade’s partnership directly with farmers in India and Brazil, some of the poorest nations in the world, that we can invest back into those communities and help them shift their lives and empower these communities to sustain themselves.”
7-Eleven’s Arabica beans are bought from the cooperative Ascarive, made up of 109 farming families in the Southern Brazilian region of Minas Gerais. Robusta beans come from a large cooperative of around 2000 farmers in India called Wayanad Agriculture Society.
Fairtrade’s Mike Briers says the new partnership will assist the organisation to fulfil its international vision to help producers secure sustainable livelihoods, and its local mission to create a more equitable world through partnerships.
The reach of 7-Eleven is also raising greater awareness of the importance of purchasing Fairtrade in Australia.
To celebrate the partnership, 7-Eleven unveiled a purpose built, multi-sensory, pop-up carnival called Fair Ground, which was held on 14 and 15 October in Melbourne. More than 3500 people lined up to take part in the carnival games that explained the benefits of Fairtrade. The event featured a 15-metre ‘Fairest Wheel’ and games like ‘Gone Fishing’ and ‘Strongman’.
Prior to Fair Ground, 7-Eleven team members had the opportunity to meet two Fairtrade farmers and hear first- hand about the impact of Fairtrade at its monthly ‘Town Hall’ event.
“It happened that we had two fabulous farmers working with us at the Melbourne International Coffee Expo so they were also able to speak about their experiences with Fairtrade to the 7-Eleven team. Their stories were really inspiring for all of us,” says Mike.
Madalena da Costa Soares from the Cooperative Comercio Agricola De Timor (C-CAT) in Timor-Leste was one such visiting farmer. She says after graduating from Fairtrade ANZ’s Women’s School of Leadership (WSOL) in September this year, she has learned many skills that she intends to share with people in her community.
“After graduation, my plan now is to empower other people in my community and empower my younger generations to learn what I have gotten from the Women’s School of Leadership,” says Madalena.
As well as helping with her family’s coffee farm, Madalena has her own small business which she is gradually growing as a result of her learnings with Fairtrade.
“With the knowledge I now have about confidence, money management, sustainable farming practices, and gender rights, I plan to work with Fairtrade to make our supply chains better than the rest.”
Fairtrade producer Mitchell Ricky from the Highland Organic Agriculture Cooperative (HOAC) in Papua New Guinea says Fairtrade has helped deliver projects that are democratically chosen by HOAC’s members.
“For HOAC, Fairtrade has delivered water projects, pulping machines, schools for our children, and hospitals for our famers when they’re sick,” he says.
While coffee farming can be challenging, Mitchell says access to the Fairtrade Premium, Minimum price, and training, makes the labour-intensive task a lot easier and financially beneficial.
“We wouldn’t have access to any of this without Fairtrade. It is a great privilege to be a Fairtrade-certified producer,” he says.
For more information, visit fairtradeanz.org
This article appears in the December 2022 edition of BeanScene. Subscribe HERE.