The International Coffee Organization (ICO) is the main intergovernmental organization for coffee, bringing together producing and consuming countries to tackle the challenges facing the world coffee sector through international cooperation.

It makes a practical contribution to the world coffee economy and to improving standards of living in developing countries by:

  1. Enabling government representatives to exchange views and coordinate coffee policies and priorities at regular high-level meetings;
  2. Improving coffee quality through the Coffee Quality-Improvement Programme;
  3. Initiating coffee development projects to improve quality and marketing, and combat diseases;
  4. Promoting coffee consumption through innovative market development activities;
  5. Working closely with the private sector through a 16 strong Private Sector Consultative Board (PSCB) which tackles issues such as food safety;
  6. Encouraging a sustainable coffee economy and environmental standards through studies and expert panels;
  7. Providing objective and comprehensive information and research on the world coffee market;
  8. Ensuring transparency in the coffee market through statistics, with 200,000 records processed each year;
  9. Producing market reports, econometric models, in-depth economic studies and country coffee profiles.

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 has administered six International Coffee Agreements (ICAs), the most recent of which entered into force provisionally on 1 October 2001. Its Members include coffee exporting and importing countries, and it functions through the International Coffee Council, the Executive Board, the Private Sector Consultative Board, the Executive Director and a small Secretariat.

Coffee is one of the world's largest traded commodities produced in more than 60 countries, providing a livelihood for some 25,000,000 coffee farming families around the world. Many of these countries are heavily dependent on coffee, which can account for over 75% of their total export earnings. Among consumers coffee is a universally popular drink, with over US$70 billion in retail sales a year. ICO exporting Members account for over 97% of world coffee production and its importing Members are responsible for 68% of world coffee consumption.

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