ToughRoad and global trade
ToughRoad gives an insight into the international trade system for better or worse. The participants each have a role in the coffee’s global “commodity chain” – as peasants, traders, exporters, coffee companies or cafés representing the consumers. Other participants are assigned a role either in one of the banks or the stock exchange, where the coffee price is determined through trade with futures contracts.
The tasks and dilemmas of the participants depend on which role they have in the commodity chain. Coffee companies are competing for the consumers support, brokers need to be able to predict the market development, bankers need to evaluate whom it pays to borrow money etc. etc.
For the peasants, growing coffee is an opportunity to not end in poverty and perhaps ensure the children a better future – and thus deeply connected to global issues such as poverty, development, overpopulation, migration and the environment.
Annually, the consumers buy coffee for 90 billion dollars. Each player in the coffee chain compete for the largest possible share, including by positioning themselves in a way so that they can control the rest of the chain. Today, half of the world’s coffee is sold by just two companies which own a number of well-known brands.
The peasants have tried to secure their rights by building cooperatives and participating in schemes such as Fairtrade.
The global trade system is not always a help. It is driven by international agreements and thus of power between the world’s countries. Coffee trade is, for example, affected by liberalization of commodity markets that occurred after the Cold War. Both current and historical aspects are incorporated in ToughRoad.