Coffee manufacturers, traders and producers have begun work on a code of conduct to cover issues such as living standards for farmers and the protection of the environment.

Aid organisations have accused the coffee industry of making massive profits without regard for poorer producers. They say that unemployment, emigration and infant malnourishment levels are high in many coffee-producing countries.

The coffee industry is now looking at addressing such issues while still ensuring the companies make a profit.

"Consumers want to be assured that the coffee they buy has been grown and processed with due respect to social, environmental and economic conditions," European Coffee Federation Secretary General Roel Vaessen was quoted as saying Reuters.

In the first session at the International Coffee Organisation (ICO) in London, representatives said the initiative was supported by big industry names including Kraft, Nestlé, Tchibo, Sara Lee and Volcafe.

Producer associations from the world’s top three coffee producers, Brazil, Colombia and Vietnam, will also help work on the code of conduct.

"We want to develop basis standards for the mainstream coffee sector in order to set a social, ecological and economic framework to ensure the long term sustainability of our industry," the representative of the Colombian Coffee Federation (FNC), Diego Pizano, said.