Central Data Catalog

Citation Information

Type Working Paper
Title Sustainability standards and coffee exports from Tanzania
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2008
URL https://www.econstor.eu/bitstream/10419/84617/1/DIIS2008-01.pdf
One of the key trends characterizing agro-food trade in the last two decades has been the increasing
complexity of public and private standards that are applied to imports into developed countries.
This paper aims to identify critical areas to facilitate compliance with sustainability standards
in coffee, which is the major traditional export crop for Tanzania. Coffee experienced a dramatic
downward trend in world market prices that led to a decreased contribution to foreign exchange
earnings in producing countries in the early 2000s. Although prices have improved over the past
few years, economies that are dependent on traditional agricultural exports such as coffee need
strategies to ensure stability in export earnings. One of the possible venues for increased agricultural
export value is through exports to niche markets, such as coffee that is certified against
one or more sustainability certifications (e.g. Fair Trade, Utz Certified, Organic, and Rainforest
For this reason, a survey was conducted with key actors (producers, processors, and exporters) in
the Tanzanian coffee sector to assess compliance to the Utz standard – the fastest growing sustainability
standard in the coffee sector. This paper reviews the key trends in relation to sustainability
standards in coffee, a profile of (and the main challenges faced by) producers that comply
with the Utz standard in Tanzania, and the perceptions of those producers who have not yet
attempted certification. It provides a first, qualitative, reading of the survey findings, which will
be followed up by a more rigorous quantitative assessment of costs and benefits. The findings
provided here show that so far only large-scale coffee producers have managed to meet the costs
of compliance with the Utz standard in Tanzania; they also show that the rate of growth of Utzcertified
coffee sales from Tanzania is quite low, even when compared with neighbouring Uganda
and Kenya. High costs of certification and the perceived inadequateness of price premiums on
certified coffee were identified as the most limiting factors against compliance.
Strategic awareness creation and support services on coffee standards are required among all
actors in the coffee sector in Tanzania to meet current consumer demands on social and environmental
concerns. Therefore, the coffee sector regulatory system should provide an institutional
guide on coffee standards. It should also stimulate discussion among smallholder organizations,
such as farmer groups and primary cooperative societies, on whether Utz certification should be
attempted. Continued research on sustainability standards is also needed to inform actors in the
sector on critical emerging issues that affect demand, supply, and prices of coffee.

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