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  • 12.2-QUALITY CONTROL ISSUES-ICO MINIMUM EXPORT STANDARDS

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  • ICO minimum export standards

     
     
    Internationally, the very low coffee prices that resulted from surplus production in the late 1990s and early 2000s have brought calls for the lowest qualities to be eliminated from the market altogether, and the ICO Council passed a resolution to this effect. Resolution 407 introduced mandatory minimum standards for coffee exports in February 2002, but this proved to be unenforceable so it was subsequently amended by Resolution 420 (May 2004) which recommends voluntary targets for the minimum quality export standards for both arabica and robusta. The objective remains that of halting the export of substandard beans and thereby tightening supply lines in the expectation this will help lift prices. The ICO's Coffee Quality-Improvement Programme calls on producing members to endeavour to restrict the export of arabica coffee with more than 86 defects per 300 g sample or robusta coffee with more than 150 defects per 300 g.

    The Programme also asks members to endeavour not to allow arabica or robusta of any grade to be exported whose moisture content is below 8% or above 12.5%, with the proviso that this should not affect established, good and accepted commercial practice. Thus, where moisture percentages below 12.5% are currently being achieved exporters should endeavour to maintain or decrease these.

    It is accepted that specialty coffees that traditionally have a high moisture content, such as Indian monsooned coffees are exempt but Resolution 420 requires all producers to clearly identify on the Certificate of Origin any coffee which does not come up to the recommended standard.

    For the coffee year October 2009 – September 2010 the ICO reported that 24 exporting members, accounting for nearly 59 million bags or nearly 60% of all 2009/10 exports, provided information on the quality of the coffee they exported. Of these exports over 57 million bags (96%) were classified as being within the Resolution’s defects and moisture targets. The split arabica/robusta was 92% arabica and 8% robusta.

    For more see Resolution number 420 of 21 May 2004, on www.ico.org as well as document EB 3941 (http://dev.ico.org/documents/eb3941e.pdf).