Blog

A Little More Change to Continue to Make Change
14 Aug '15

A price increase on our signature product is typically not the way to thank our patrons for 20 years of loyalty.  So, needless to say the decision for a coffee price increase was not taken lightly.

Our coffees are purchased largely from small-scale Indigenous co-ops committed to organic farming, with whom we have maintained long-term relationships for several years.  The prices we negotiate with our partners come from an understanding of the quality of bean we are looking for, and the price the co-op requires to cover the costs of production, meet the needs of the farm families, and invest in their communities.  For example, the typical price per pound for fair trade organic green coffee beans is US $1.90/lb.  The average price that Just Us! pays is close to US $3.05 per pound.

We visit our producer co-ops regularly to discuss costs of production, increased costs of living, as well as other increased costs based on community projects. The reality is, as the economies of developing nations grow, so does the cost of living for the people living and working in those nations. We do not dictate a price.  We work out a price based on mutual respect – we value a high quality bean grown using organic practices and they value that we share their stories about how fair trade coffee is helping create social change in their communities.  This relationship is foundational in creating transformative change in our society and how we look at economies and how we look at interconnectedness.

For many of the farmer co-ops in South and Central America, the past few years have been exceptionally difficult as a result of a fungal disease called coffee leaf rust (La Roya) that is affecting the coffee plant leaves and invariably the yield.  This disease is a direct result of climate change, higher temperatures at higher elevations are allowing the pathogen a larger habitat.  Just Us! is committed to ensuring that we stand with our long-term partners and have implemented a coffee rust remediation program to help out through these transitional times.

Beyond this, through the fair trade premium Just Us! pays on each pound, our producer partners are doing phenomenal projects in their communities to increase their collective quality of life.  For example, co-ops have instituted programs that have led to increased access to education; increased opportunities for women farmers; and increased opportunities to roast their own coffee and sell it in their home communities

Here, in the North, it isn’t much of a surprise to most that our costs for processing have increased. Transportation, fair wages for workers, storage and energy are all necessary inputs that have risen considerably. Over the past five years we’ve seen inflation raise prices by about 10% and unfortunately we are not immune to that. Twenty years in the business, we now employ over 70 Nova Scotians, and we’re honoured you have allowed us this success through your patronage, and happily accept the responsibility that comes with it.

Lastly, and arguably perhaps it should be firstly, part of our increased costs is our commitment to the environment.  We source all of our electricity from renewable sources through Bullfrog. Although our new packaging is not contributing to our price change, our new policy of accepting used bags at our coffeehouses to be repurposed costs money to implement.

We are striving to make the best possible business decisions such that we can operate a viable business that continues to provide value to both wholesale and retail customers AND is fair to our coffee-producing partners, ourselves (the workers at Just Us!), and our Earth.  We thank you for your continued loyalty and encourage you to ask for clarity at any time.