Today, many people buy produce at a local grocery store but newly designed agriculture programs are looking to change this typical consumer trend. Members of community-supported agriculture programs, known as C.S.A’s, have their fruits and vegetables delivered directly to their homes or neighborhoods. This direct grower-to-consumer relationship has had success on a local scale and now the program will test itself by entering the global marketplace.
The first C.S.A. program to go global is a large-scale coffee C.S.A. created by the Pachamama Coffee Cooperative. After starting in the countries of Mexico, Peru, Guatemala, Ethiopia, and Nicaragua, the program is expanding its international reach by entering markets in other countries including the United States. With this farmer-owned coffee C.S.A., a customer can choose between monthly or annual memberships with a specific farm. Conventionally, farmers sell their green coffee beans to a broker and from there the beans go through several hands before reaching the retailers. Now, farmers can avoid this longer process and sell their coffee beans directly to consumers with C.S.A. programs. With its online model, farmers receive all of the profits and customers are required to pay the shipping costs.
Although slightly more expensive for customers, the economic impact for agricultural business is significant. Community-supported agriculture programs can help markets maintain stability. For example, a recent spell of erratic weather patterns has hurt coffee production creating record high prices now seen in the global market for coffee. Customers in long-term C.S.A.’s help farmers survive these changes while also receiving their coffee beans at more stable prices.
Direct grower-to-consumer relationships have become popular and have also inspired other C.S.A. programs to develop which sell meat, fish and eggs directly to consumers. These programs have seen great success on a local level and certainly have potential on a global scale. In future years, consumer behavior will tell if C.S.A. programs can hold a lasting position in global markets.