Winners of this week's Brazilian Fair Trade Certified coffee cupping competition have been announced. Carmo Barbosa Fernandes of the producer organization, Coopervitae, and Luciano Dazilio Delpupo of the producer organization, Pronova, won first place in the natural and semi-washed coffee categories respectively. The competition, which is a specialized tasting to assess coffee quality, capped off three years of intensive quality training for farmers and was attended by high-ranking Brazilian and U.S. officials, representatives of the Brazilian coffee industry and international coffee buyers.
The event was sponsored by U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), Walmart, Fair Trade USA and the Brazilian organization SEBRAE-MG, as part of the Responsible Sourcing Partnership Project to benefit farmers throughout Brazil. The three-year project expanded and improved the quality of the Brazilian Fair Trade Certified coffee supply though investments in infrastructure, technical assistance with production and post-harvest processing, as well as training in coffee quality management.
The 2010 coffee cupping competition clearly indicates that change is indeed brewing among Brazil's Fair Trade coffee cooperatives. The overall quality of entries improved year-over-year as did producer engagement. In 2010 not a single sample was disqualified due to visual defect, an important improvement from the 10 percent disqualification rate only a year ago. And the number of groups entering the competition nearly doubled, up from nine in 2009 to 14 this year.
'The improvements in quality production shown in this year's competition are a clear demonstration of the success of the Responsible Sourcing Partnership Project,' said Denny Robertson, USAID Mission Director to Brazil. 'Today we are celebrating the fruitful harvest of our collective work during three years of project implementation. It is rewarding to see the improvements in both the producer's quality of life and in their ability to meet fair trade and quality standards using environmentally-sound production methods.'
'We want to congratulate the farmers for their dedication to quality and their accomplishments in this competition. Their efforts will ensure our members the highest quality Fair Trade Certified coffee for years to come,' said Heather Mayo, Vice President Merchandising, Sam's Club. 'We are proud of this collaboration, and its efforts to empower farmers to compete in the global market. We believe that this project will contribute to sustainable development in this region and help the farmers provide a better life for their families and their communities for generations to come.'
The Responsible Sourcing Partnership was designed to amplify the benefits that Brazilian farmers gain from Fair Trade by increasing their incomes and capacities going forward. From 2007 to 2010, program partners invested over $2 million in infrastructure and technical support to help nearly 6,000 famers from the Brazilian states of São Paulo, Minas Gerais and Espirito Santo increase coffee quality, improve cooperative management and enhance marketing efforts. Farmers and their families benefited from increased employment opportunities, expanded access to new domestic and international markets, increased use of environmentally-sound farming methods, better prices for their coffee beans and overall improvements in their quality of life.
'The Responsible Sourcing Partnership is what Fair Trade Certified is all about - community empowerment and sustainable development,' said Paul Rice, President and CEO of Fair Trade USA. 'Through the partnership, these hard-working farmers have learned the skills to improve the quality of their beans. Higher quality beans will allow them to negotiate better prices and long-term stable contracts, and generate more Fair Trade premiums to invest in education and health care in their communities. This increased business capacity will support these communities for generations to come.'
In 2009, imports of Fair Trade Certified coffee into the United States grew more than 25 percent. Fair Trade certification offers coffee farmers fair prices, community investment funds, and the business skills necessary to produce high-quality products that can compete in the global marketplace. And it empowers consumers to make every purchase matter with the confidence that each high-quality product with the Fair Trade Certified label takes steps to improve lives and protect the environment.
USAID is an independent federal government agency receiving overall foreign policy guidance from the Secretary of State. Our work supports long-term and equitable economic growth and advances U.S. foreign policy objectives by supporting global health, economic growth, agriculture and trade, democracy, conflict prevention, and humanitarian assistance. In Brazil, USAID supports Brazilian efforts towards sustainable socio and economic development, while strengthening the partnership between the United States and Brazil. For more information about USAID, visit brazil.usaid.gov.
About Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.
Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (NYSE: WMT), or 'Walmart,' serves customers and members more than 200 million times per week at more than 8,000 retail units under 53 different banners in 15 countries. With fiscal year 2009 sales of $401 billion, Walmart employs more than 2.1 million associates worldwide. A leader in sustainability, corporate philanthropy and employment opportunity, Walmart ranked first among retailers in Fortune Magazine's 2009 Most Admired Companies survey. Additional information about Walmart can be found by visiting www.walmartstores.com. Online merchandise sales are available at www.walmart.com and www.samsclub.com.
About Fair Trade USA
Fair Trade USA (previously TransFair USA), a nonprofit organization, is the leading third-party certifier of Fair Trade products in the United States. Fair Trade USA audits and certifies transactions between U.S. companies and their international suppliers to guarantee that the farmers and workers producing Fair Trade Certified goods were paid fair prices and wages, work in safe conditions, protect the environment, and receive community development funds to empower and uplift their communities. Fair Trade USA educates consumers, brings new manufacturers and retailers into the Fair Trade system, and provides farming communities with tools, training and resources to thrive as international businesspeople. Visit http://www.fairtradeusa.org for more information.
The Service of Support for the Micro and Small Companies of the State of Minas Gerais - SEBRAE-MG was created in 1972. Its mission is to promote the competitiveness and the sustainable development of the micro and small companies as well as to promote the entrepreneurship in the State of Minas Gerais. It offers entrepreneurial orientation, promotes courses, lectures and projects of managerial training, encourages the formalization, approach the micro and small companies with the market and stimulates the generation of business. SEBRAE-MG, thus, contributes to induce the socioeconomic development of the State of Minas Gerais with the generation of revenue, work, income and better life conditions for the population.
Ed. Note: Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. is the legal trade name of the corporation. The name 'Walmart,' expressed as one word and without punctuation, is a trademark of the company and is used analogously to describe the company and its stores. Use the trade name when it is necessary to identify the legal entity, such as when reporting financial results, litigation or corporate governance.