Understanding The Two Sides Of The Coffee Commodity Chain: A Canadian Vs Costa Rican Ethical Commodity Chain Analysis
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Coffee is the second most internationally traded, quintessential global commodity to exist today, linking millions of people’s daily lives. This research encompasses transdisciplinary perspectives to elaborate how the coffee commodity chain operates. Focusing on socio-economic aspects of corporate operation, I examine how eco-certifications (particularly Fairtrade) influence consumers and producers in a coffee commodity chain. This I carry out in conjunction with investigating if York University Master of Environmental Studies Students are more aware of the issues with eco-labeling than other programs outside of the Environmental Studies faculty. To achieve this, the study examines existing research on coffee commodity chains and conducts an eco-certification survey distributed to York University Master of Environmental Studies students and graduate students outside of the environment faculty. The eco-health methodology is first discussed and used to construct and lay out the research. I discuss the emergence of the coffee commodity chain, its systemic histories and cycles so as to look at the current operation of commodity chains. Looking at coffee as a Systems Thinking approach, I consider the input and cost factors of coffee production. To better break down these complex systems, I created two systems maps to outline how the system functions. Next I discuss the various influences and issues within the commodity chain. The Fairtrade eco-certification is discussed in detail, highlighting the certifications origins and inabilities to adequately alleviate poverty among small scale farmers. I look at Costa Rica as a case study, investigating their history of coffee, how the Costa Rican market is impacted by Fairtrade, and how producers have been affected by the volatile market. The results of this study indicate that Fairtrade is not working effectively to reduce poverty in producing countries and needs actualization of its policies and regulations to ensure everyone along the supply chain is obtaining a fair wage. The survey provides observations detailing the opinions of a sample of Master of Environmental Studies students. While they appeared somewhat more aware of issues concerning eco-certification than the broader graduate student body, I had anticipated greater knowledge on this issue. It is evident more education is needed for all consumers on how to purchase ethical products and identify companies that support direct trade operations. I conclude this research offering solutions to help alleviate issues along the supply chain. This involves a model reinvention, which enhances local economies, and offers support to marginalized small-scale farmers in Costa Rica.