What has 2018 meant for Twin?

Posted by Richard Anstead on 20 December 2018

As the year comes to an end and as thoughts head to the holiday season and into the next year, I thought I would take a few minutes to reflect on 2018 and what it meant to Twin and its partners.

We were thrilled to hear at the start of the year that Twin and Twin Trading’s work had been recognised by the Specialty Coffee Association, winning the Sustainable Business Award. I was delighted to attend the Re:Co Symposium to accept this award on behalf of Twin. It was great to share with the audience a little of our history as a disruptor of markets, an innovator of brands and a collaborator across coffee, cocoa and nut value chains.

We were also excited this year to start working in São Tomé with Divine Chocolate and CECAQ-11 – a cooperative producing delicious cocoa for Divine’s new range of organic chocolate. CECAQ-11 has worked with another of our close friends, Café Direct, for many years and it’s fantastic to develop a new working relationship with these inspiring farmers in collaboration with Divine.

On a personal note I was able to visit a number of Twin’s partners in East Africa and spend time in our Kigali office. I met with Trade Mark East Africa (TMEA) in Kigali to discuss the conclusion of our two-year programme and explore how we might work together in the future. While I was there, I visited several producer organisations in Rwanda and Burundi and saw how our work with TMEA had helped improve infrastructure and build capacity. For example, funding was used to build washing stations. Both countries have enormous potential and are already producing some fantastic coffee. Samples are available from our trading team.

RIch in Burundi
UBWIZA BW'IKAWA Coop in Burundi

I’m proud to report that we have increased the volume of coffee we trade from Africa this year. We’ve helped producers from Malawi, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) access specialty markets and prices. Next year our trading team hopes to sell even bigger volumes from these fantastic origins.

Coffee, cocoa and nuts farming remains tough and farmers and producer organisations continue to face challenges. They still need the support of partners and the opportunity to be able to trade on fairer terms if they are to lift themselves out of poverty. We explored the opportunities that specialty coffee and cocoa markets open for smallholder farmers in our latest advocacy report supported by Comic Relief. The importance of securing higher prices for farmers was highlighted again later in the year as international coffee prices crashed to under a dollar – the lowest price for many years.

And more recently we have heard how the cocoa industry is still struggling to prevent deforestation. This continues to be an issue and something the industry undoubtedly needs to address and find solutions for. We have been working with the RSPB (part of Birdlife International) in Sierra Leone with Forest Edge Communities surrounding Sierra Leonne first and only National Park. The Gola National Park is home to the White-necked Picathartes bird which features on the park’s emblem.

Strategy workshop in Kigali
The team in Kigali after our workshop kicking off our strategy review

As we move into the new year, we have been working closely with a long-term partner on our future strategy. We are carefully considering how Twin and Twin Trading can continue to address some of these issues. We will continue disrupt, innovate and collaborate to ensure we deliver development through trade.