The Rt Hon Mark Spencer MP, Minister of State for Food, Farming and Fisheries, has signed the International Coffee Agreement (ICA) on behalf of the UK Government, strengthening the industry which contributes billions of pounds to the UK economy each year.
The signing took place at the International Coffee Organization (ICO) headquarters in London, alongside an event organised by the British Coffee Association (BCA), the representative organisation of the coffee industry in the UK.
Research published by the BCA shows that the UK has a flourishing coffee industry – the nation drinks approximately 98 million cups of coffee every day, with the industry creating over 210,000 UK jobs. The BCA represents, promotes, and supports all aspects of the UK coffee trade – to the media, politicians, and the public.
Minister Spencer signed the landmark 2022 agreement in the presence of the Executive Directors of the ICO and BCA, as well as key UK coffee industry representatives. The Agreement is the eighth of its kind since the first ICA, signed in 1962 at the United Nations in New York, which established the ICO with its headquarters in London.
The ICO is the only intergovernmental organisation for coffee, bringing together exporting and importing governments to tackle the challenges facing the coffee sector through international co-operation. The 2022 Agreement marks a gear-shift in the way the ICO operates, for the first time in its 60-year history giving a more prominent role to the private sector in its decision making process, alongside national governments.
The signing of the new ICA is particularly important to the UK, as the host State for the ICO and a key coffee importing nation.
Mr Spencer said: “I’m honoured to sign the International Coffee Agreement on behalf of the UK.
“We may be known for our tea, but we Brits drink almost 100 million cups of coffee every single day, worth around £5 billion pounds per year to the economy, with the industry employing thousands of people around the country.
“This international treaty champions the industry globally, and I hope the UK can help continue its drive for new standards of sustainability for our coffee.”
Paul Rooke, executive director of the British Coffee Association, said: “The British Coffee Association warmly welcomes the UK’s signing of the 2022 International Coffee Agreement, demonstrating a real commitment from the Government to the future success of our industry.
“This new agreement seeks to strengthen the role of the private sector, within its overall objectives for a commercially and environmentally sustainable coffee industry.
“Promoting consumer choice by maintaining a diverse range of coffee origins, while underpinning the need for a profitable income for producers, is an ambition which BCA works towards in close co-ordination with industry and other coffee associations.
“We see ICO, and this updated agreement, as key components of delivering that ambition, and look forward to working with Government Departments and colleagues at ICO to ensure the UK plays a central role in securing a positive future for coffee.”
Vanúsia Nogueira, executive director of the International Coffee Organization, said: “Today, we celebrate a remarkable moment in the longstanding partnership between the International Coffee Organization (ICO) and the United Kingdom, but also in the 60-year history of the ICO. The signature of the new International Coffee Agreement (ICA 2022) by the United Kingdom opens a new chapter in our relationship with our host country.
“The ICA 2022 prioritises not only a strengthened co-operation between the ICO and signatory governments but also, for the first time, stronger partnerships with the private sector and civil society. We are confident that today’s signature will contribute to bringing together coffee farmers in producing countries with industry and consumers in the United Kingdom.
“Today’s signature is only the beginning. Much challenging work lies ahead. I look forward to working with you to advance the coffee sector and to shape a successful future that is truly sustainable, resilient and inclusive.”