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Volume 406: debated on Thursday 12 June 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what measures her Department has established to manage better the international supply of coffee. [117076]

Coffee is traded on a free market. Any attempt to intervene in the international coffee market to manage supply is unlikely to work. However, the Government share the concern for the way that coffee growers have been hit by low prices and deteriorating quality, largely as a result of global over supply and structural imbalances in the industry.We support action to improve the sustainability of the coffee supply chain and to improve co-operation between all market participants. The UK is a member, through the EU, of the International Coffee Organisation (ICO), a United Nations body established to, amongst other things,

"achieve a reasonable balance between world supply and demand on a basis which will assure adequate supplies of coffee at fair prices to consumers and markets for coffee at remunerative prices to producers…to facilitate the expansion and transparency of international trade in coffee".

Officials from the Department regularly attend meetings of the ICO. They also meet with representatives of the coffee trade, other interested organisations and other Government Departments with an interest in coffee matters. They also consider representations and reports provided by these organisations.