A TRANSPARENCY PREFACE FROM ETON TSUNO, DIRECTOR OF COFFEE, TEMPLE COFFEE ROASTERS INC.
Return to Origin, or RTO, represents the percentage of a coffee retail sale that goes back to the coffee supply chain at its origin. I have created our RTO system and will issue regular update reports as part of Temple’s effort to be more transparent in our coffee purchasing process. From day one Temple has always strived to negotiate and purchase coffee in the fairest, most profitable way for all parties involved. After much deliberation, we would like to share this information with the public.
This RTO is a starting point. I would like to say that this report does not in any way attempt or even come close to opening up the can of worms called profits and expenses for each part of the supply chain. The costs that the RTO report are based on merely represent what Temple paid for its coffee. In this preface, I lightly touch on how green coffee cost is typically split in the supply chain, however these figures should be used as guesstimates.
We feel that a focus on transparency, and healthy trade relationships should be our goal rather than certifications or direct trade agreements. We want to share how we will achieve this goal through the creation and publication of our RTO system as well as monthly reports and a more encompassing sustainability report (to be released July 1st, 2016).
While creating the outline for our RTO report, it occurred to me that a direct trade system, one where pricing is negotiated directly by the end user (roaster) with every party involved in the transaction, is essentially the same process as purchasing a coffee through an exporter, importer, or broker if the selling entity operates in a truly transparent manner.
To be clear, direct trade is in no way a negative endeavor. Our own “Farm to Cup” program and many other direct trade programs have served consumers, the coffee industry, and supply chain in a positive way. We will continue our current direct trade relationships and will build more. However, with better reporting and more transparency, it is our belief that direct trade is just one way, not the only way.
Instead of focusing on the processes of promoting direct trade and chasing certifications, we will be focusing on each issue more directly and openly and we will publish our results.
Instead of just talking about our purchasing process in nebulous terms, it will be our focus to show you hard facts. This means numbers. This means charts.
We are extremely excited to present this new approach to transparency, and ultimately sustainability. We understand that all of you may not agree with how or what we are attempting to accomplish. Please bear in mind, we’re putting our best effort into what we feel is best for our origin partners, our company, and our community moving forward.
Temple will continue our efforts to become more sustainable and more transparent in the way we conduct business. We believe our RTO system is a major step towards that end, however we also understand that the system has its limitations. The one thing we can do is commit ourselves to always look for new ways to make our tiny corner of the world a better place for everyone involved.