Most of the major global coffee companies are taking a proactive leadership role in finding the balance between global consumer demand and ensuring sustainable production across the entire agri-food value chain.
According to the Global Coffee Platform, almost 50 percent of the total amount of coffee purchased in 2020 was from sustainable sources, an increase of 53 percent from 2018.
GCP Snapshot 2019-2020
Global brands leading the way
More than 155 members of the Sustainable Coffee Challenge, including purchasers, roasters, farmers, NGOs, and local community leaders, are working hand-in-hand to drive sustainable coffee farming.
At the end of 2020, they committed to avoiding 1.5 gigatons of carbon dioxide emissions by 2050 by increasing production on existing coffee farms.
For example, Starbucks set 2030 goals for a 50 percent reduction in carbon emissions; water used in global operations, packaging, and the agricultural supply chain; and waste sent to landfills. From 2019-2020 they reported an 11% reduction in carbon emissions; 4% water reduction; and 12% waste reduction.
Massimo Zanetti Beverage Group, including Segafredo Zanetti, focuses on sustainable agriculture as a way of life. They provide housing, medical facilities, and schooling for coffee farmers and their employees. Furthermore, their Nossa Senhora da Guia plantation in Brazil provides fair wages at a level that gives the plantation employees exceptionally high living standards.
In addition, Lavazza has launched an entire brand – La Reserva de ¡Tierra!, coffees from communities supported by The Lavazza Foundation. All the coffee has been grown according to sustainable agricultural practices as certified by the Rainforest Alliance or a variety of organic growing organizations.
Nestlé recently announced it is allocating $1.2 billion over the next five years to “spark” regenerative farming across its food supply chain. This is part of a $3.5 billion fund Nestle has set aside for its net-zero by 2050 goal.
JDE Peet has increased its sustainability purchases to almost 30 percent in 2020 from 21 percent in 2019. Both JDE Peet and Nestle are targeted to reach 100 percent by 2025.
The Verified Living Income pricing model, introduced by Bellwether Coffee, is used to determine the minimum price farmers need to be paid to earn a living income. Implementation requires pricing power sharing among buyers and producers; procurement practices that focus on economic sustainability at the origin; and investing in coffee farming for the long haul.
Source: Sustainable Coffee Challenge – 2021 Commitments Hub Report
In addition, many of the global coffee brands are releasing annual sustainability reports, providing details about their individual progress:
The critical role technology plays in ensuring sustainability
Accelerating sustainability across the entire coffee production and purchasing ecosystem requires a combination of innovative business practices and agronomic intelligence-based technologies.
Cloud-based precision agriculture technologies deployed at the farm level can assure yield, quality, and sustainability. Comprehensive data sharing allows for full visibility into grower operations, leading to better monitoring and predictability of the coffee supply chain. Optimizing operations based on real-time data automatically reduces the volumes of water and fertilizer to meet sustainability goals while still driving higher yields. Furthermore, using agronomic AI allows for sharing of best practices, as it is easier to monitor issues within individual farms.
Sustainability reporting becomes much easier as well. The comprehensive data analysis provides a complete picture of production activities, allowing coffee purchasers to monitor sustainability KPIs to ensure growers adhere to sustainability standards.
Furthermore, a single, unified platform allows coffee growers and purchasers to collaborate to manage operations from pre-planting to post-harvesting, with complete supply chain transparency to achieve sustainability more quickly.