Coffee is the single most important tropical commodity traded worldwide. It is produced in over 50 developing countries, and it is estimated that some 20 million rural families, or 125 million people, depend on growing coffee throughout the world for their livelihoods. Over the past decade, coffee producers have been facing considerable difficulties because of low and unstable coffee prices. In 2002, coffee prices collapsed to 100-year lows in real terms, leading to a world coffee crisis. Meanwhile, the coffee economy in high income countries has been moving in the opposite direction, and the crisis is hardly visible from Starbucks-type western coffee chains. This paper examines how coffee producers in developing countries can use intellectual property, or intellectual property-related rights, as differentiation tools to move from pure commodity exports to higher-price exports in niche markets and create value. It takes into account the influence of new consumption patterns in the coffee industry and analyzes the various differentiation techniques that have been proposed, such as single-origin, specialty and gourmet, and sustainable coffees. Finally it examines the situation of the coffee industry in Vietnam and Indonesia, who are also two of the most important coffee producers worldwide in terms of volume, and where the coffee sector has experienced an explosive growth since the 1980s.
Daphne Zografos Johnson,
International Intellectual Property Scholars Series: Using Intellectual Property Rights to Create Value in the Coffee Industry,
16 Marq. Intellectual Property L. Rev. 283
Available at: http://scholarship.law.marquette.edu/iplr/vol16/iss2/6