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Fairtrade coffee on the rise in Finland, watchdog reports

Finns are the biggest coffee guzzlers in the world, and now more of it is sustainably and humanely sourced.

kahvipapuja astiassa
Last year residents of Finland consumed an average of 12 kg coffee per capita. Image: Henrietta Hassinen / Yle

More than half of the coffee beans sold by the biggest producers in Finland last year were fair trade-certified, according to a fresh report from corporate responsibility watchdog Finnwatch.

Last year's figures represent a marked improvement from a similar survey by the agency in 2016, which found that top producers like Paulig and Meira had been acquiring beans from plantations that had major shortcomings such as child labour exploitation, inadequate wages, discrimination and enormous worker recruitment fees.

On average, each resident of Finland consumed the equivalent of 12 kg of coffee beans last year, according to worldatlas.com, making it the biggest coffee consumer in the world. Coffee imports rose last year by 13 percent.

However, more of the coffee being consumed is ethically grown and produced. According to Finnwatch, Finland's coffee producers bought 45 million kg more Fairtrade beans last year than it did just two years prior.

The watchdog surveyed the practices of the country's four biggest coffee firms - Paulig, Meira from Finland along with Swedish companies Löfbergs and Arvid Nordquist.

The group compared how much each of them sourced coffee from certified producers, including certifications from Fairtrade, UTZ and the Rainforest Alliance.

Fairtrade "sets social, economic and environmental standards for both companies and the farmers and workers," according to the international non-profit group.

Meanwhile, non-profit organisations UTZ and the Rainforest Alliance merged last year, and certification from these require good agricultural practices and living conditions as well as sound environmental practices.

Story continues after photo.

Kahvipakkaus, jossa on Reilun kaupan symboli.
Packet of coffee with Fairtrade certification logo. Image: Yle

'Big coffee' in Finland

The watchdog reported that the country's biggest coffee producer Paulig had made the biggest strides since 2015, when just 20 percent of its coffee was certified. Now that figure is 80 percent.

Paulig markets many of Finland's favourite coffee brands including the nearly-ubiquitous Juhla Mokka, but does not publicly share the various certifications of its products.

However Finnwatch reported that around 80 percent of Paulig's coffee beans were certified one way or another.

The agency reported that Paulig bought 55 million kg of coffee beans last year, or about 10 percent more coffee than it did in 2015.

Meira, which markets the popular Kulta Katriina line of coffees, purchased nearly 14 million kg of coffee (about an 11 percent increase over 2015). Around 22 percent of Meira coffee was UTZ certified and about two percent of it certified by Fairtrade and the Rainforest Alliance.

About 52 percent of the 32 million kg of beans that Sweden's Löfbergs bought last year received certification, according to Finnwatch.

Seventeen percent of its coffees were Fairtrade-certified, eight percent UTZ-marked and 27 percent Rainforest Alliance-certified.

For its part, Swedish Arvid Nordquist has used Fairtrade certified beans exclusively since 2014, according to Finnwatch.

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