The International Coffee Organization (ICO) is the main intergovernmental organization for coffee, bringing together exporting and importing Governments to tackle the challenges facing the world coffee sector through international cooperation. Its Member Governments represent 94% of world coffee production and over 75% of world consumption.
The ICO’s mission is to strengthen the global coffee sector and promote its sustainable expansion in a market-based environment for the betterment of all participants in the coffee sector.
It makes a practical contribution to the development of a sustainable world coffee sector and to reducing poverty in developing countries by:
- enabling governments and the private sector to exchange views on coffee matters, market conditions and trends, and coordinate policies at high-level meetings
- developing and seeking finance for projects that benefit the world coffee economy
- promoting coffee quality through a Coffee Quality-Improvement Programme
- promoting market transparency by providing a wide range of statistics on the world coffee sector
- developing coffee consumption and markets for coffee through innovative market development activities
- encouraging the development of strategies to enhance the capacity of local communities and small-scale farmers
- promoting training and information programmes to assist the transfer of technology relevant to coffee
- facilitating information on financial tools and services to assist producers
- providing objective and comprehensive economic, technical and scientific information on the world coffee sector.
The ICO was set up in London in 1963 under the auspices of the United Nations because of the great economic importance of coffee. It administers the International Coffee Agreement (ICA), an important instrument for development cooperation. The latest Agreement, the ICA 2007, entered into force on 2 February 2011.
Importance of coffee
Coffee is one of the world’s most widely traded commodities, and is produced in over 60 countries. Many of these countries are heavily dependent on coffee, which can account for over 50% of their total export earnings.
It provides a livelihood for over 125 million people around the world and is particularly important for smallholder farmers who produce most of the world’s coffee. Among consumers coffee is a universally popular drink, with over 600 billion cups consumed each year.