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Sleepy attendees that want a jolt of caffeine this morning, and hear ways to perk up their store-brand coffee business may want to stop by Booth 2937.

That’s home to Coffee Bean International, a Portland, Ore., company that works with independent farmers in the San Ignacio region of Peru. In a process called direct trade, it pays the farmers a fair, minimum price for their beans, plus more when the coffee quality goes up.

Yes, it sounds a lot like fair trade. The main difference is that in fair trade, buyers don't pay more for coffee when the quality improves, according to Coffee Bean International.

The benefit of direct trade is that farmers have an incentive to improve the quality of their beans, and consumers get the absolute highest quality coffee, officials at Coffee Bean say.

Target Corp., Minneapolis, and The Fresh Market, Greensboro, N.C., have both introduced direct-trade, private-label coffee from Coffee Bean International.

At a time when powerful national brands have caused an uphill battle for store-brand coffee, the direct-trade model offers retailers a way to differentiate their brand in the crowded coffee section.

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David Orgel

David Orgel is executive director, content & user engagement, of Supermarket News (SN) and its website, SupermarketNews.com. Orgel delivers his opinions on industry trends through a bi-weekly...

Jon Springer

Jon Springer has been writing about food, food retailers and food retailing for more than 10 years, and is in his second tour of duty with Supermarket News. His prior experience includes covering the...
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