Blog post -
"Digitization is crucial for the quality coffee of the future"
Europeans are one of the biggest consumers of coffee in the world. Each day we consume hundreds of million cups of coffee each day. Most often completely without a clue where the coffee came from - and without the remotest opportunity to find out.
The coffee farmers live hidden in the shadow of the coffee trade’s complicated structures. That is the coffee industry’s fundamental challenge. Because their position and life in the shadow makes the coffee farmers powerless in relation to the pricing of their coffee - and that threatens the future of quality coffee.
In the coffee industry, we are dealing with a supply chain where up to 150 different sets of hands can be in contact with our coffee before it ends up in the cup. It almost goes without saying that the coffee farmers already get a vanishingly small part of the profit when you buy a latte for 5 Euros.
At the same time, most coffee farmers are completely dependent on external factors when it comes to selling their beans. This means that they are virtually without bargaining power.
Although we have seen an enormous increase in value in the coffee industry in recent years, both coffee growers and coffee plantations are still under tremendous pressure. The profits do not benefit them.
In fact, the majority - 61 percent - sell their coffee below cost. It is, of course, unsustainable - and it creates a huge generational challenge.
Being a coffee farmer is traditionally a profession that is passed down from one generation to the next. But the reality we are looking into is pushing away the new generations. Here we are not talking about an imaginary scenario 5, 10 or 15 years into the future. That is a consequence we are already seeing now, with an average age in the workforce of no less than 57 years.
If the flight from the industry continues, our quality coffee is at stake. Without dedicated farmers, we are left to cheap, low-quality coffee, which represents the lowest common denominator in sustainability.
For a roaster at the size of like Löfbergs Group, it is a daunting task to contribute to a radical change of course. We must fundamentally change the historical dynamics and power balance of the coffee industry so that the individual farms are seen and heard.
We are convinced that digitalization possesses an absolutely crucial power to create that change. And the potential is great.
The new, global platform, Era of We, which Löfbergs Group now has introduced to the Swedish and Danish market, is in our opinion the strongest bid to date. As the market's first digital end-to-end solution, Era of We makes it possible to purchase beans directly from the coffee farms. All on a well-informed basis about everything from the geographical conditions where the beans grow, to the farmers who walk in the field.
Era of We thus gives the coffee farmers a voice and enables them to differentiate themselves with independent brands. That way, they are also empowered to set the price of their products themselves. It fundamentally changes the rules of the game.
It's time for a new era of coffee. Not least for the coffee farmers. We hope that together we can work towards creating the framework for a responsible and sustainable coffee trade.
Malin Helgman, Head of e-commerce/Era of We, Löfbergs Group
Lars Aaen Thøgersen, Chief Innovation Officer, Löfbergs Group