What are the buying conditions for coffee under the 4C seal and
what is the premium in the trade?
The terms of trade for 4C-Compliant coffee, including any premium, are freely
negotiated between buyer and seller.
The 4C Association is a non-profit membership driven organisation
whose members include coffee farmers (both big and small), trade
(importers and exporters), industry (coffee roasters and retailers) and civil
society (non-governmental organisations and trade unions). The aim of the 4C
Association is to promote sustainability in the mainstream or large-scale coffee
sector. It is estimated that mainstream coffee accounts for as much as 85 to
90% of all coffee consumed globally.
The 4C Association does not set prices or premiums. A
combination of factors determines coffee prices: the quality of the coffee, the
region or country where the coffee is grown, the price on the international
coffee market and the relationship between buyer and seller. The 4C system helps
to establish a new understanding of quality. By improving the quality of the
product, the resulting coffee becomes more valuable. The improved quality
attracts better prices that are freely negotiated between the individual buyers
The 4C Association does not use a product label. A product
label or seal usually serves as a guarantee for a certain set of criteria
towards consumers. Coffee in a labelled retail pack communicates that it has
been produced in accordance with certain standards, using certification to
ensure this claim is correct. Label-based initiatives have their coffee and
farms "certified". They ensure that all the coffee in the retail pack meets the
criteria the label stands for.
The 4C Association has a different approach. Its moderate
and more inclusive entry level means that farmers can get started on working
towards improved sustainability whilst gradually and continually improving their
practices over time. This continuous improvement process is 4C’s main concept -
it is why the 4C Association works with independent third-party verifiers to
make sure that its members have implemented mechanisms to both measure their
improvement process and to assure that they meet a baseline level of
sustainability. Therefore, on coffee packs consumers might read that the roaster
supports the 4C sustainability approach but they will not see any label or
For more information visit www.4C-coffeeassociation.org and
look for the section on FAQ or Frequently Asked Questions. See also topic
03.05.06 of the Coffee Guide.