We attended the recent summit, exploring the dynamic landscape where coffee prices meet technological innovation.
BY VASILEIA FANARIOTI
SENIOR ONLINE CORRESPONDENT
Featured photo courtesy of Diego Catto via Unsplash
Attending Digital Coffee Future’s “Coffee Prices and Technology Summit: Trends, Margins and Pay Gap” in October was a revelation, immersing me in the complex landscape where coffee prices intersect with the potential of technology. In an industry grappling with perennially low prices exacerbated by factors like economic fluctuations and unpredictable weather conditions, the summit aimed to explore the often-overlooked role of digital tools as a catalyst for change.
As a participant in this interactive event, I found myself amid more than 150 coffee professionals from 40 countries, each representing diverse roles in the coffee supply chain, from producers and exporters to importers, traders, roasters, technology providers, and other experts.
In-Depth Lectures and Engaging Panel Discussions
Over two intense half-days, 22 global speakers delved into discussions ranging from the persistent challenges faced by various industry stakeholders to the promising solutions technology might offer. Delving into the summit’s sessions, the speakers highlighted the critical connection between coffee prices and technology, and offered tangible lessons on navigating the complexities of the industry.
The lectures included topics such as “Coffee Price Strategies” and “Understanding Price Trends,” while the panel discussions revolved around topics like price fluctuations and their impact on the coffee industry, living income, risk mitigation and data management with the help of technology, as well as learning from other industries, redefining quality, and more.
Key Takeaways from the Summit
The intricacies of coffee pricing—a subject even seasoned industry professionals grapple with—took center stage during the summit. Amidst discussions surrounding quality, production costs, and the influence of the C market, it became evident that the complexity of setting coffee prices requires a deep understanding that only dedicated pricing experts possess.
Despite these challenges, the imperative conversation about the industry’s economic and social sustainability is more critical than ever. Organizations are recognizing the urgent need to initiate initiatives that enhance farmer livelihoods, especially considering mounting obstacles such as low prices, climate change, global inflation, and high interest rates. Speakers emphasized the risks posed by low prices, the importance of understanding production costs, and the need for transparent, traceable technologies to safeguard the industry’s future.
The summit underscored the pivotal role of technology in addressing these challenges, emphasizing solutions focused on production efficiency, transparent pricing strategies, cost calculations, and traceability initiatives. However, the implementation faces hurdles, including limited internet access, a lack of digital knowledge at origin, and a top-down approach to digitalization.
A Personal Reflection: Navigating the Path Forward
Having immersed myself in the summit discussions, the industry’s complex web of challenges became vividly apparent. The urgent need for fair pricing, sustainable practices, and innovative approaches for future generations resonated throughout all conversations. While the adoption of digital tools emerged as a promising avenue, the gaps in technology implementation at the farm level painted a stark picture.
My firsthand experience illuminated the industry’s journey toward leveraging technology for better transparency, efficiency, and collaboration. The summit provided a roadmap, emphasizing the critical role of a down-up approach to digitalization at origin, rooted in collaboration. The summit not only revealed the challenges but also offered a collective call to action—an invitation for the industry to unite, collaborate, and pave the way for a more sustainable and equitable future.
Digital Coffee Future recently published the summit’s report on their website, available for all to download for free. If you are keen to know more details about the intricate intersection of coffee prices and technology, this report is a must-read.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Vasileia Fanarioti (she/her) is a senior online correspondent for Barista Magazine and a freelance copywriter and editor with a primary focus on the coffee niche. She has also been a volunteer copywriter for the I’M NOT A BARISTA NPO, providing content to help educate people about baristas and their work. You can follow her adventures at thewanderingbean.net.